Unit 3 - Disability Etiquette
Upon completing this unit you should be able to:
1. Define disability etiquette and why it is important.
2. Discuss portrayal issues.
3. Explain how to treat a person with a disability with dignity.
4. Describe reception etiquette.
5. Discuss service dog etiquette
6. Use conversational etiquette
7. Describe appropriate interviewing etiquette
Disability-related etiquette is nothing more than an educated attitude based on common sense and common courtesy
The following information should help you to understand proper terminology and etiquette for dealing with people who have disabilities. Its not just a matter of semantics or being politically correct; the language we use reflects how we feel about disability.
If a person hasnt had much experience being around someone who is disabled, or if they feel uncomfortable about disability, its important to realize that disability is but one small fact about a person among a myriad of others. Most people with disabilities look at it as just another aspect of themselves -- no more or less relevant than having red hair or wearing glasses. If you look beyond the disability, youll see an individual whose life in all its variety is more similar to yours than it is different.
Remember that most people with disabilities are capable of being fully independent, productive members of society. Many people who use a wheelchair do not like for others to push them in their chairs because it reinforces the myth that they are dependent on others for help in their daily lives. Dont automatically step in to help someone with a task that appears difficult for them; ask if they want your assistance first. Some people would rather do a difficult task themselves than give up any independence; others will welcome the assistance. Remember, too, that most people with disabilities are not sick or fragile.
A word about courage: It takes courage to run into a burning building to save a baby or to take an unpopular stand on an issue you believe in. Adapting to a disability requires adjustments in lifestyle, not bravery and courage. It is condescending to depict people as heroic or courageous simply for getting on with their lives and living as normally as possible; it suggests we expected very little of them to begin with.
Consider the following when writing or speaking about people with disabilities.
1. Do not sensationalize a disability by saying afflicted with, victim of, and so on. Instead, say a person who has multiple sclerosis, a person who has polio.
2. Avoid labeling a person or group of people as a condition, as in the disabled, the deaf, a retardate, an arthritic, a quadriplegic. Instead, say people who are deaf, a person with arthritis, persons with disabilities. Or use the word as an adjective, as in, Brad Jones, who is a quadriplegic...Always emphasize the individual, not the disability.
3. Avoid using emotional descriptors such as unfortunate, pitiful, and so on. Emphasize abilities, such as uses a wheelchair/braces rather than confined to a wheelchair, walk with crutches/ braces rather than is crippled, is partially sighted rather than partially blind. Remember that, to a person who is unable to walk, a wheelchair is a symbol of freedom and mobility. No one is bound to a wheelchair; people use them because they provide a convenient method of getting from one place to another.
4. Avoid implying disease when discussing disabilities. A disability such as Parkinsons disease may be caused by a sickness, but it is not a disease itself, nor is the person necessarily chronically ill. People with disabilities should never be referred to as patients, except when specifically referring to a doctor-patient relationship.
5. Act naturally. Dont monitor your every word and action to avoid offending someone; treat them like you would treat everyone else. Dont worry about using everyday expressions like, Lets take a walk, or Ill see you later. If you always substitute words like roll or wheel for walk or run, you make the disability into more of an issue than it really is by showing that the disability is in the forefront of your mind.
People with disabilities merely ask that we look at them as individuals and treat them with the respect and dignity we would treat any other human being. Its a rare person who wouldnt vastly prefer to receive peoples acceptance and respect for their abilities instead of their sympathy, pity or charity. Listed below are preferred ways of treating a person with a disability with dignity.
1. Greetings: The standard should be to extend the same courtesies to individuals with disabilities that would be extended to other people--shaking hands with individuals who cannot see, who have short arms, who use prostheses, or touching the arm or hand of individuals who cannot raise a hand in greeting.
2. Eye contact and eye level. The standard should be to give the same amount of eye contact to an individual with a disability, regardless of the nature of the disability, even if the individual has a visual impairment. Eye level is also important. When interviewing and interacting in general, as a common courtesy it would be appropriate to place oneself at approximately the same eye level as the individual with a disability. The benefits in such a move are that the right signals are sent to the individual with a disability. The individual with a disability senses that the other person is comfortable in the presence of an individual with a disability; is focused on the individual, not the disability; is willing to extend to that individual the same courtesies that the other would extend to those who are not disabled.
3. Attention and Proximity. Giving an individual ones undivided attention and sitting or standing near an individual also has a positive impact. How close you sit to an individual and what you do while you interact with him or her sends a message -- you are interested or not interested, you feel comfortable or uncomfortable. These messages are universal. Your behavior will not be interpreted differently by an individual with a disability. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to read mail when talking to an individual who is blind or to talk to an interpreter when interviewing an individual who is deaf.
4. Assistance (Stop, Ask, Listen). It is acceptable to offer assistance at any time. If the person accepts the offer, ask how to help. Avoid offering persons who cannot see help by grabbing their arms - - offer first, then honor their request. For example, offer your arm to an individual who is visually impaired. If the person accepts it, ask how the person would like to grasp your arm.
5. Using Appropriate Terminology. Using appropriate terminology sends positive signals to a person with a disability -- that the other person is educated and sensitive to the nuances of language associated with disability. The words you use and how you use them, if appropriate, make them a positive role model for others. Some general tips:
Never use the term handicap
or handicapped. Use the term disability.
Know where accessible restrooms, drinking fountains and telephones are located. If such facilities are not available, be ready to offer alternatives, such as the private or employee restroom, a glass of water or your desk phone.
Use a normal tone of voice when extending a verbal welcome. Do not raise your voice unless requested.
When introduced to a person with a disability, it is appropriate to offer to shake hands. People with limited hand use or who wear an artificial limb can usually shake hands.
Shaking hands with the left
hand is acceptable.
If an interpreter is present, speak to the person who has scheduled the appointment, not to the interpreter. Always maintain eye contact with the applicant, not the interpreter.
Offer assistance in a dignified manner with sensitivity and respect. Be prepared to have the offer declined. Do not proceed to assist if your offer to assist is declined. If the offer is accepted, listen to or accept instructions.
Allow a person with a visual
impairment to take your arm (at or about the elbow.) This will enable
you to guide rather than propel or lead the person.
Over 12,000 people with disabilities use the aid of service animals. Although the most familiar types of service animals are guide dogs used by people who are blind, service animals are assisting persons who have other disabilities as well. Many disabling conditions are invisible. Therefore, every person who is accompanied by a service animal may or may not "look" disabled. A service animal is NOT required to have any special certification.
What is a Service
According to the Americans
with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA);
Service Animal Access
Service Dog Etiquette
When talking to a person with a disability, look at and speak directly to that person, rather than through a companion who may be along.
Relax. Don't be embarrassed if you happen to use accepted common expressions such as See you later or Got to be running along that seem to relate to the person's disability.
To get the attention of a person with a hearing impairment, tap the person on the shoulder or wave your hand. Look directly at the person and speak clearly, naturally and slowly to establish if the person can read lips. Not all persons with hearing impairments can lip-read. Those who can will rely on facial expression and other body language to help in understanding. Show consideration by placing yourself facing the light source and keeping your hands, cigarettes and food away from your mouth when speaking. Keep mustaches well-trimmed. Shouting won't help. Written notes may.
When talking with a person in a wheel chair for more than a few minutes, use a chair, whenever possible, in order to place yourself at the person's eye level to facilitate conversation.
When greeting a person with a severe loss of vision, always identify yourself and others who may be with you.
EXAMPLE: On my right is John Jones.
When conversing in a group, give a vocal cue by announcing the name of the person to whom you are speaking. Speak in a normal tone of voice, indicate in advance when you will be moving from one place to another and let it be known when the conversation is at an end.
Listen attentively when you're talking to a person who has a speech impairment. Keep your manner encouraging rather than correcting. Exercise patience rather than attempting to speak for a person with speech difficulty. When necessary, ask short questions that require short answers or a nod or a shake of the head. Never pretend to understand if you are having difficulty doing so. Repeat what you understand, or incorporate the interviewee's statements into each of the following questions. The person's reactions will clue you in and guide you to understanding.
If you have difficulty communicating, be willing to repeat or rephrase a question. Open-ended questions are more appropriate than closed-ended questions.
Do not shout at a hearing impaired person. Shouting distorts sounds accepted through hearing aids and inhibits lip reading. Do not shout at a person who is blind or visually impaired -- he or she can hear you!
To facilitate conversation, be prepared to offer a visual cue to a hearing impaired person or an audible cue to a vision impaired person, especially when more than one person is speaking.
Interviewing Scheduling Etiquette
Make sure the place where you plan to conduct the interview is accessible by checking the following:
Are there handicap parking
spaces available and nearby?
When giving directions to a
person in a wheelchair, consider distance, weather conditions and physical
obstacles such as stairs, curbs and steep hills.
People with disabilities use a variety of transportation services when traveling to and from work. When scheduling an interview, be aware that the person may be required to make a reservation 24 hours in advance, plus travel time. Provide the interviewee with an estimated time to schedule the return trip when arranging the interview appointment.
Expect the same measure of punctuality and performance from people with disabilities that is required of every potential or actual employee.
People with disabilities expect equal treatment, not special treatment.
Interviewing Technique Etiquette
Conduct interviews in a manner that emphasizes abilities, achievements and individual qualities.
Conduct your interview as you would with anyone. Be considerate without being patronizing.
When interviewing a person with a speech impediment, stifle any urge to complete a sentence of an interviewee.
If it appears that a person's ability inhibits performance of a job, ask: How would you perform this job?
Interviewers need to know whether or not the job site is accessible and should be prepared to answer accessibility-related questions.
Interviewing a person using Mobility Aids
Enable people who use crutches, canes or wheelchairs to keep them within reach.
Be aware that some wheelchair users may choose to transfer themselves out of their wheelchairs (into an office chair, for example) for the duration of the interview.
Here again, when speaking to a person in a wheelchair or on crutches for more than a few minutes, sit in a chair. Place yourself at that person's eye level to facilitate conversation.
Interviewing a person with
If the person does not extend their hand to shake hands, verbally extend a welcome.
EXAMPLE: Welcome to the disability link office.
When offering seating, place the person's hand on the back or arm of the seat. A verbal cue is helpful as well.
Let the person know if you move or need to end the conversation.
Allow people who use crutches, canes or wheelchairs to keep them within reach.
Interviewing a person with
Ask short questions that require short answers or a nod of the head.
Do not pretend to understand if you do not. Try rephrasing what you wish to communicate, or ask the person to repeat what you do not understand.
Do not raise your voice. Most speech impaired persons can hear and understand.
Interviewing a person who
is Deaf or Hearing Impaired
If the interviewee lip-reads, look directly at him or her. Speak clearly at a normal pace. Do not exaggerate your lip movements or shout. Speak expressively because the person will rely on your facial expressions, gestures and eye contact. (Note: It is estimated that only four out of ten spoken words are visible on the lips.)
Place yourself placing the light source and keep your hands, cigarettes and food away from your mouth when speaking.
Shouting does not help and can be detrimental. Only raise your voice when requested. Brief, concise written notes may be helpful.
In the United States most deaf people use American Sign Language (ASL.) ASL is not a universal language. ASL is a language with its own syntax and grammatical structure. When scheduling an interpreter for a non-English speaking person, be certain to retain an interpreter that speaks and interprets in the language of the person.
If an interpreter is present, it is commonplace for the interpreter to be seated beside the interviewer, across from the interviewee.
Interpreters facilitate communication. They should not be consulted or regarded as a reference for the interview.
Click on the following to review the following ADA Business Briefs:
Service Animals Q & A
1. As stated in this unit, of your training course, adapting to a
disability requires adjustments in lifestyle, not ________.
B. special treatment
C. bravery and courage
D. government regulations
2. Which one (1) of the following is the CORRECT portrayal
issue statement(s) when writing or speaking about people
A. Avoid labeling a person or group of people as a condition.
Always emphasize the individual, not the disability.
B. It is acceptable to sensationalize a disability by saying
"afflicted with," "victim of," and so on.
C. Reinforce a persons disability with emotional descriptors such
as unfortunate, crippled, or bound to a wheelchair.
D. When speaking to individuals with disabilities, show them the
disability is on your mind. Avoid everyday expressions like
"Lets take a walk" or "Ill see you later."
3. Which three (3) of the following are preferred ways of treating a
person with a disability with dignity?
A. Because individuals with disabilities are not helpless, it is
unacceptable to offer assistance at any time.
B. The standard should be to extend the same courtesies to
individuals with disabilities that would be extended to
C. As a common courtesy it would be appropriate to place oneself
at approximately the same eye level as the individual with
D. It would be inappropriate to read mail when talking to an
individual who is blind or talk to an interpreter when
interviewing an individual who is deaf.
4. Which two (2) of the following are considered correct reception
etiquette when being introduced to persons with disabilities?
A. When extending a verbal welcome, raise your voice.
B. Allow a person with a visual impairment to take your arm
(at or about the elbow).
C. Instead of shaking hands when addressing a person who uses a
wheelchair, pat them on the head or shoulder.
D. For those who cannot shake hands, touch the person on the
shoulder or arm to welcome and acknowledge their presence.
5. Which one (1) of the following is NOT appropriate service
A. Do not be offended if the person does not feel like discussing
his/her disability or the assistance the service dog provides.
B. Avoid making noises at the service dog that may distract it
from doing its job.
C. Treat the service dog the same as household pets because it
is also a pet.
D. Do not feed the service dog because it may disrupt
6. According to Unit 3 of the training course, which one (1) of the
following question types is the MOST appropriate to ask?
A. Questions that encourage the person to reveal more about their
B. Questions that require either a YES or NO answer only.
C. Closed-ended questions
D. Open-ended questions
7. Because it is considered critical to ensure proper etiquette,
which one (1) of the following must a person remember to DO
when interviewing a person with a speech impediment?
A. Provide a tape recording device for the interviewee.
B. Stifle any urge to complete a sentence of an interviewee.
C. Ask the interviewee to also write down each one of their responses.
D. Inform the interviewee that you have a time limit for each of