Disability Etiquette

There are some fundamental tips that you need to know about when interacting with a person with a disability. These include:

  • Don’t stare if you have question or want to talk to the person. People with a disability are just like you, they have feelings and emotions.
  • Do not lean on or touch a person’s wheelchair without their permission, as the wheelchair is part of the person and it may be seen as an invasion of personal space.
  • Always ask the person if they would like help. Don’t assume they can’t do something.
  • Talk directly to the person. Do not talk as if they are not there.
  • Be mindful of the time it may take a person with a disability to do everyday tasks.
  • It is ok to use words such as running or walking when someone uses a wheelchair.
  • Do not say “You need a horn on that thing” or use jokes about the wheelchair unless you know the person.
  • Do not assume someone in a wheelchair cannot open doors.
  • People live very independent lives, do not assume being in a wheelchair is a tragedy.
  • If you are going to have an extended conversation with a person in a wheelchair, bring yourself to eye level so that they are not straining their neck looking up at you.
  • For people who are vision impaired ask if they need assistance, do not automatically take their arm, if they require help they will usually ask to take your elbow.

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