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General Do’s and Don’ts

  • Relax and enjoy getting to know your colleagues or guests as people and as professionals.
  • Ask before you provide assistance.
  • Do not assume that a person with an apparent disability needs assistance; offering assistance in broad terms such as “Let me know if you need anything” opens the door without assumptions of inability.
  • Think in terms of ‘Disability Pride’ language using powerful words such as: wheelchair user as opposed to confined to a wheelchair or wheelchair person; person who is deaf or blind rather than deaf or blind people.

Individuals with Mobility Disabilities

  • Do not touch a person’s mobility equipment.
  • Be considerate of possible pain, balance, or post-traumatic stress concerns during physical contact.
  • When engaging in a conversation, select a location where you can engage comfortably and that reduces distance between you.

Individuals who are Blind or have Low Vision

  • Identify yourself when entering a conversation and announce when you leave.
  • When serving as a sighted guide, offer your arm or shoulder rather than grabbing or pushing the individual.
  • Describe the setting, environment, written material, and obstacles when serving as a human guide.
  • Resist the temptation to pet or talk to a guide or service animal.

Individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

  • Gain the person’s attention before starting a conversation.
  • If the individual uses a sign language interpreter, speak directly to the person, not the interpreter; keep your eyes on the individual and not on the interpreter.
  • Face the person and speak in normal tones.

Individuals who have Speech Disabilities

  • If you do not understand what the person is saying, ask the person to repeat what they said and then repeat it back to ensure you understood.
  • Do not speak for the person or attempt to finish their sentences.

Individuals who have Non-Apparent Disabilities

  • Seek to understand their lived experience.
  • Recognize that disclosing their disability comes with a risk and honor requested confidentiality.
  • Engage in a dialogue to determine individual needs.
  • Support accommodations.