Disability Etiquette Tips

Read these 10 Disability Etiquette Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Special-Ed tips and hundreds of other topics.

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How should I talk to someone in a wheelchair?

Restaurants

If you're a waiter or waitress, treat people with disabilities with respect. Never assume they can't read. Hand them a menu and always talk to them. Don't ask whoever they are with what they want to eat or if they are finished yet.

   
When should I help someone with a disability?

Helping Others

If you think someone with a disability needs assistance, ask first. Don't grab their wheelchair or equipment without asking first unless it's an emergency.

   
Should I say confined to a wheelchair?

Using a Wheelchair

When you discuss someone being in a wheelchair, avoid saying confined to a wheelchair. Many people with disabilities are not confined, they just need to use the wheelchair for mobility.

Remember that just because a student is in a wheelchair doesn't mean they're mentally retarded, deaf, or has any other disability.

   
How can I help my child´s self esteem?

People First Language

When speaking or writing about someone with a disability, use people first language. Say the person before the disability. This shows greater respect to the person rather than the disability.
Instead of saying "Disabled John"
Say "John has a disability."

   
How do I talk to someone with a speech impediment?

Speech Impairments

If you can't understand someone who has a speech impediment, politely ask them to repeat themselves. Never just ignore or pretend that you know what they said.

   
How should I treat a service dog?

Service Animals

When encountering someone with a service animal, act normal. This way the animal won't be scared or distracted. If you wish to pet the dog, always ask first. Also, don't just talk to the dog, but talk to the owner.

   
Is it ok to stare?

Staring

Some people think staring is all right if they are staring at someone with a disability. However, this is wrong. You shouldn't stare at anyone. If you have a question, you should just ask them.

   
How should I treat someone with a disability?

Patting Heads

Don't pat someone with a disability on the head. They are people and not a pet. Treat them with respect and dignity.

   
What terms should I avoid?

Avoid These Terms

When talking about or to someone with a disability, try to avoid these words and phrases:

  • cripple Use - can't walk or disabled.
  • confined to a wheelchair Use - uses a wheelchair
  • handicap Use - physically disabled

   
How should I talk to someone in a wheelchair?

Down to Their Level

When talking to someone in a wheelchair, please try to be at the same level they are. You can kneel or sit on a chair yourself. This makes it easier to communicate by helping eye contact.

   
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Barbara Gibson