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Everyday Interaction

Etiquette for everyday interaction with a person with a disability

  • The person with a disability is not necessarily more fragile or sensitive than other people.
  • Ask the person for his or her preferred method for communication, for example, written or sign language.
  • Look and talk directly to the person.
  • Feel free to ask the person to repeat himself if you do not understand the first time.
  • If you offer help, wait until the offer is accepted. Then listen or ask for instructions.
  • There is no need to avoid or gloss over humorous situations as a result of a disability.
  • Try to help a person with a visual impairment in becoming familiar with a new place.
  • Ignore guide dogs or other service animals. Don’t pet them…they are working.
  • Don’t worry about using common expressions such as “See ya later,” or “Gotta run.”
  • When speaking with someone with mental retardation, use simple, but not childish language.
  • Don’t pretend to understand if you don’t.
  • When speaking with someone who uses a wheelchair, sit down or kneel to place yourself at their eye level.
  • Don’t lean on the wheelchair.