Unit 3. Disability Ettiquite
Illustrative Service Animal Case
Unit 4. Appropriate Terminology
Printable Handout on Words with Dignity


Introduction
Course Overview
Units 1-2
Units 3-4
Units 5-6
Units 7-8
Resources
Disabilities Home
Unit 3 - Disability Etiquette

Lesson 3.0 Introduction
Lesson 3.1 Portrayal Issues
Lesson 3.2 Treating A Person With Dignity
Lesson 3.3 Reception Etiquette
Lesson 3.4 Service Animals
Lesson 3.5 Conversation Etiquette
Lesson 3.6 Interview Etiquette
Lesson 3.7 Practical Assignment
Unit 3 Quiz


Objectives

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

Lesson 3.0 Introduction

“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. It’s not just a matter of semantics or being “politically correct”; the language we use reflects how we feel about disability.

If a person hasn’t had much experience being around someone who is disabled, or if they feel uncomfortable about disability, it’s 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, you’ll 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. Don’t 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.

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Lesson 3.1 Portrayal Issues

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 Parkinson’s 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. Don’t monitor your every word and action to avoid offending someone; treat them like you would treat everyone else. Don’t worry about using everyday expressions like, “Let’s take a walk,” or “I’ll 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.

Lesson 3.2 Treating A Person With Dignity

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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. It’s a rare person who wouldn’t vastly prefer to receive people’s 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 one’s 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.”
Put the person first (e.g., “individual with disability,” not “disabled individual”).
Never refer to a person in the third person when the person is present.
Do not use demeaning or negative phrasing (e.g., “confined to a wheelchair,” or “victim of cancer”).
Do not apologize for using common phrases (e.g., see you later,” “How about running over here,” even if the person being addressed cannot see or walk).
Do not use demeaning phrases such as “crippled” or spastic.”

Lesson 3.3 Reception Etiquette

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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.
For those who cannot shake hands, touch the person on the shoulder or arm to welcome and acknowledge their presence.
Treat adults in a manner befitting adults.
Call a person by his or her first name only when extending that familiarity to all others present.
Never patronize people using wheelchairs by patting them on the head or shoulder.
When addressing a person who uses a wheelchair, never lean on the person's wheelchair. The chair is part of the space that belongs to the person who uses it.
When talking with a person with a disability, look at and speak directly to that person rather than through a companion who may be along.

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.
Offer to hold or carry packages in a welcoming manner.
Example: May I help you with your packages?
When offering to hand a coat or umbrella, do not offer to hand a cane or crutches unless the individual requests otherwise.

Lesson 3.4 Service Animals

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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 Animal?
A service animal is NOT a pet!

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA);
A service animal is any animal that has been individually trained to provide assistance or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a physical or mental disability which substantially limits one or more major life functions.

Service Animal Access
The civil rights of persons with disabilities to be accompanied by their service animals in all places of public and housing accommodations is protected by the following Federal laws:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA (1990)
  • Air Carrier Access Act (1986)
  • Fair Housing Amendments Act (1988)
  • Rehabilitation Act (1973)

Service Dog Etiquette

  • Do not touch the Service Animal, or the person it assists, without permission.
  • Do not make noises at the Service Animal, it may distract the animal from doing its job.
  • Do not feed the Service Animal, it may disrupt his/her schedule.
  • Do not be offended if the person does not feel like discussing his/her disability or the assistance the Service Animal provides. Not everyone wants to be a walking-talking "show and tell" exhibit.

Lesson 3.5 Conversation Etiquette

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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.

EXAMPLE:
Closed-Ended Question: You were a tax accountant in XYZ Company in the corporate planning department for seven years. What did you do there?
Open-Ended Question: Tell me about your recent position as a tax accountant.

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.

Lesson 3.6 Interview Etiquette

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Interviewing Scheduling Etiquette
Some interviewees with visual or mobility impairments will phone in prior to the appointment date, specifically for travel information. The scheduler should be very familiar with the travel path in order to provide interviewees with detailed information.

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?
Is there a ramp or step-free entrance?
Are there accessible restrooms?
If the interview is not on the first floor, does the building have an elevator?
Are there any water fountains and telephones at the proper height for a person in a wheelchair to use?
If an interview site is inaccessible (e.g., steps without a ramp or a building without an elevator), inform the person about the barrier prior to the interview and offer to make arrangements for an alternative interview site.
When scheduling interviews for persons with disabilities, consider their needs ahead of time:

When giving directions to a person in a wheelchair, consider distance, weather conditions and physical obstacles such as stairs, curbs and steep hills.
Use specifics such as left a hundred feet or right two yards when directing a person with a visual impairment.
Be considerate of the additional travel time that may be required by a person with a disability.
Familiarize the interviewee in advance with the names of all persons he or she will be meeting during the visit. This courtesy allows persons with disabilities to be aware of the names and faces that will be met.

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?

Examples:
Inappropriate: I notice that you are in a wheelchair, and I wonder how you get around. Tell me about your disability.
Appropriate: This position requires digging and using a wheelbarrow, as you can see from the job description. Do you foresee any difficulty in performing the required tasks? If so, do you have any suggestions how these tasks can be performed?

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 Vision Impairments

When greeting a person with a vision impairment always identify yourself and introduce anyone else who might be present.

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 Speech Impairments

Give your whole attention with interest when talking to a person who has a speech impairment.

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 you need to attract the attention of a person who is deaf or hearing impaired, touch him or her lightly on the shoulder.

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.

Lesson 3.7 Practical Assignments

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Click on the following to review the following ADA Business Briefs:

Service Animals

Service Animals Q & A

Unit 3 Quiz (7 Items)

1. As stated in this unit, of your training course, adapting to a

disability requires adjustments in lifestyle, not ________.

A. sympathy

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

with disabilities?

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 person’s 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

"Let’s take a walk" or "I’ll 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

other people.

C. As a common courtesy it would be appropriate to place oneself

at approximately the same eye level as the individual with

a disability.

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

dog etiquette?

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

his/her schedule.

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

personal life.

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

their responses.

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