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Your UCP: National September 11, 2003
Media & Public Awareness

Etiquette Tips

People with Disabilities …General Interaction Tips

Assistive devices (canes, wheelchairs, crutches, communication boards, etc.) should be respected as personal property.

Always direct communication to the individual with the disability. If they are accompanied, do not direct your comments to the companion.

Use the same level of formality with everyone present.

Relax. Do not be embarrassed if you happen to use common expressions like "See you later" or "Got to be running along" that seem to relate to the person's disability.

It is appropriate to shake hands when introduced to a person with a disability. People who have limited use of their hand or who wear an artificial limb can usually shake hands. Shaking with the left hand is acceptable. For people who cannot shake hands, touch the person on the shoulder or arm to welcome and acknowledge their presence.

Focus on the individual and the issue at hand, not the disability.

People with disabilities are interested in the same topics of conversation in which people without disabilities are interested.

If someone needs you to speak in a louder voice, they will ask.

People with disabilities, like all people, are experts on themselves. They know what they like, what they do not like, and what they can and can not do. If you are uncertain what to do, ask. Most people would rather answer a question about protocol than be in an uncomfortable situation.

Offer assistance in a dignified manner with sensitivity and respect. Be prepared to have the offer declined. If the offer is accepted, listen to and accept instructions.

When mistakes are made, apologize, correct the problem, learn from the mistake and move on.

Let people provide information about their disability on their own initiative. They are not responsible for educating the public by sharing their story.

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