Apply Today

Disability Services Faculty & Staff Disability and Accommodations

General Accomodations Disability Accomodations

 

GENERAL COMMUNICATION TIPS

It is not uncommon for people to be uncomfortable around individuals with disabilities because they are unsure of what to do, what is correct, and what will offend. The best strategy is to be sensitive and flexible. A lack of sensitivity or flexibility makes situations awkward at best, and at worst it can cause unintentional discrimination.

Talking about disability is often difficult, partly because the terminology is unclear and laden with connotations. The accepted terminology, “person with a disability,” puts the emphasis on the person, not his or her limitations. In fact, the term is consistent with the intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act to focus on abilities not disabilities. A “handicap” is a result of one’s inaccessible environment-a disabling condition doesn’t have to be a limitation. 

Above all, as in any new situation, use common sense, be polite, be considerate, offer assistance, communicate, and don’t hesitate to ask questions.

 

Do's and Don'ts

Do

Look at the individual when addressing him or her.

Don't

Tell an individual you admire his/her courage or determination.

Do

Ask an individual how you should best act or communicate if you have a doubt as to correctness.

Don't

Stare at or avoid looking at a visible disability.

Do

Speak directly to a person with a disability, even if he or she is accompanied by a person without a disability.

Don't

Express sympathy for the individual.

Do

Offer assistance if it appears necessary, but don’t assume he or she will accept it.

Don't

Presume the individual is more fragile or sensitive than others.

Do

Extend your hand to shake when meeting someone, even someone with a physical impairment.

Don't

Assume someone with a speech impediment is intellectually impaired.

Do

If you offer assistance, wait for acceptance and instructions before proceeding. Remember that not everyone will want or need assistance, and their wishes should be respected.

Don't

Feel uncomfortable using the word “see” when addressing a blind person, or “hear” when addressing a hearing impaired person.

 

COMMUNICATION TIPS FOR SPEECH DISORDERS

Top of page

Become a Student Academics & Research Students Alumni & Friends Faculty & Staff Arts & Athletics A-Z List