Disability Etiquette (easterseals.com)

Disability Etiquette

People with disabilities are entitled to the same courtesies you would extend to anyone, including personal privacy. If you find it inappropriate to ask people about their sex lives, or their complexions, or their incomes, extend the courtesy to people with disabilities.

  • If you don't make a habit of learning or hanging on people, don't lean or hang on someone's wheelchair. Wheelchairs are an extension of personal space.
  • When you offer to assist someone with a vision impairment, allow the person to take your arm. This will help you to guide, rather than propel or lead the person,
  • Treat adults as adults. Call a person by his or her name only when you extend this familiarity to everyone present.

In conversation...

  • When talking with someone who has a disability, speak directly to him or her, rather than through a companion who may be along.
  • Relax. Don't be embarrassed if you happen to use common expressions, such as "See you later" or "I've got to run," that seem to relate to a person's disability.
  • When talking with a person in a wheelchair, for more than a few minutes, place yourself at the wheelchair user's eye level to spare both of you a stiff neck.
  • When greeting a person with a severe loss of vision, always identify yourself and others who may be with you.

Common courtesies...

  • If you would like to help someone with a disability, ask if he or she needs it before you act, and listen to any instructions the person may want to give.
  • Whhen giving directions to a person in a wheelchair, consider distance, weather conditions, and physical obstacles such as stairs, curbs and steep hills.
  • When directing a person with a visual impairment, use specifics such as "left a hundred feet" or "right two yards."
  • When planning events involving persons with disabilities, consider their needs ahead of time. If an insurmountable barrier exists, let them know about it prior to the event.