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Report
Disability Etiquette
Tips on Interacting with Employees with Disabilities
Privacy and Diversity Office
January 2014
Important things to think about…
 There is ability beyond disability.
 In fact, disabilities, impairments, and chronic health
conditions are a natural part of being human. We may
be born with them, or cycle in and out of disabilities
through injury and recovery.
 The disability community is the world’s most inclusive
minority community. Disability is the one diversity
category that crosses gender, race, ethnicity, religion,
age and socioeconomic class.
Privacy and Diversity Office
January 2014
Our Purpose Today
 Examine stereotypes and misconceptions about persons
with disabilities.
 Improve attitudes and behaviors that prevent growth and
success of a work unit or agency.
 Develop skills that help to effectively communicate and
work with people with disabilities.
Privacy and Diversity Office
January 2014
Executive Order 13548
On July 26, 2010, President
Barack Obama signed Executive
Order 13548. President Obama
stated that, “[a]s the Nation's
largest employer, the Federal
Government must become a
model for the employment of
individuals with disabilities.
Executive departments and
agencies must improve their
efforts to employ workers with
disabilities through increased
recruitment, hiring, and retention
of these individuals.”
Privacy and Diversity Office
January 2014
What is a Disability?
A person with a disability has a
physical or mental impairment
that substantially limits one or
more major life activities; has a
record of such an impairment; or
is regarded as having such an
impairment.
Privacy and Diversity Office
January 2014
Strategies for Communicating with
People with Disabilities
 We all communicate in various
ways with or without a disability.
 Pay attention to cues from the
person you are communicating
with.
 Don’t be afraid to say that you do
not understand, if you have
trouble understanding the
person’s speech or request.
Privacy and Diversity Office
January 2014
The Basics
 Just because someone has a disability, don’t assume
s/he needs help. If the setting is accessible, people with
disabilities can usually get around fine.
 Adults with disabilities want to be treated as independent
people.
 Offer assistance only if the person appears to need it.
 A person with a disability will oftentimes communicate
when s/he needs help. If s/he does want help, ask how
before you act.
Privacy and Diversity Office
January 2014
Etiquette
 Relax. Don’t make
assumptions based on
appearance alone. The
best resource for
information is the person,
so Ask!
 Never touch, lean on, or
move a person's mobility
device or wheelchair
without consent.
 Do not touch, play with,
distract or feed a service
animal without
permission.
Privacy and Diversity Office
January 2014
Etiquette continued…
 Maintain natural language and tone when interacting
with people whom have disabilities.
 Professional behaviors such as active listening, a
service-minded orientation, and a results-focus work
equally well with people with disabilities as with all other
people.
Privacy and Diversity Office
January 2014
Communication Tips (Non-Verbal)
 Be considerate of the extra time it may take a person
with a disability to walk, talk, write or perform a task.
 Extend your hand to shake if that is what you normally
do. A person who cannot shake hands will let you know.
 Sit down when speaking for more than a few minutes
with a person who uses a wheelchair so you are at eye
level.
 Look directly at people with disabilities when you are
talking with them – even if they are accompanied by a
sign language interpreter or a personal assistant.
Privacy and Diversity Office
January 2014
Communication Tips (Verbal)
 Use “People First”
Language (e.g. person
with a disability, person
who is blind, individual
with Cerebral Palsy)
 Use language that the
person to whom you are
referring is comfortable
with.
Privacy and Diversity Office
January 2014
Positivity Please
Preferred phrases
 Person with intellectual/cognitive disabilities
 Person who is blind, person who is visually impaired
 Person who is Deaf, person who is hard of hearing
 Person with Epilepsy
 Person who uses a wheelchair
 Unable to speak, uses synthetic speech
 Person with a disability
 Successful, productive
Privacy and Diversity Office
January 2014
Negativity – No more
Antiquated and offensive phrases
 Retarded, mentally defective
 The blind
 A hearing loss, the deaf
 Afflicted/Stricken by/Victim of
 Crippled, lame, deformed
 Confined or restricted to a wheelchair
 Dumb/mute
 Crazy/nuts/abnormal
Privacy and Diversity Office
January 2014
Disability Myths and Facts
Myths
Facts
 People with disabilities cannot
be productive in the workplace.
 People with disabilities have a
variety of skill sets and abilities
that make them very
productive in the workplace.
 People with disabilities don’t
want to work.
 People with disabilities always
need help.
 2 out of 3 unemployed people
with disabilities (67%) said
they would prefer to be
working.*
 Many people with disabilities
are very independent and
prefer to be responsible for
themselves.
N.O.H, Harris, 2000
Privacy and Diversity Office
January 2014
Situations and Solutions
I’m working to create a more inclusive work environment.
What should I do?
 Focus on Abilities
 Ask the person first.
 Adaptive Devices and Assistive Technology.
 Communicate Directly with a Colleague with a Disability.
Privacy and Diversity Office
January 2014
Situations and Solutions
continued…
 Safety Concerns.
 Eye Contact, Engage the Colleague.
 Speech Impairment.
 Disability Information is Confidential.
Privacy and Diversity Office
January 2014
Situations and Solutions
continued…
 Communication Preference
 Follow Up Face To Face.
 Learning To Navigate The Office.
 Gaining Attention of Colleague Who Is Deaf.
Privacy and Diversity Office
January 2014
Situations and Solutions
continued…
Supporting a person with a mental health condition
 Stress can affect the person’s ability to function.
 Treat each person as an individual.
 In a crisis, stay calm and be supportive as you would
with anyone. Ask how you can help, and find out if there
is a support person who can be sent for.
Privacy and Diversity Office
January 2014
Supervision
I am responsible for supervising a new employee with a
disability. To be as inclusive as possible, what should I do?
 Immediately orient employees with disabilities to
emergency evacuation procedures.
 Respect privacy.
 Plain language requests for assistance can open
discussions of accommodation needs.
 Refer requests for reasonable accommodation to your
servicing Diversity and Civil Rights Officer.
Privacy and Diversity Office
January 2014
Meetings and Trainings
I am planning a face-to-face meeting/training for our unit.
To be as inclusive as possible, what should I do?
 Send out a request for participant accommodations in
advance of the meeting.
 Know and communicate any emergency evacuation
procedures to your audience at the beginning of the
meeting.
 Customize information provided in print.
Privacy and Diversity Office
January 2014
Meetings and Trainings
continued…
 Insure accessibility for PowerPoint presentations.
 Describe slides during the presentation.
 Provide Word and PDF documents in advance.
 One size does not fit all.
Privacy and Diversity Office
January 2014
Remember this…
 Do your part to dispel myths and stereotypes. Speak out
when you hear others talk negatively about people with
disabilities.
 Encourage participation of people with disabilities in social,
community and workplace events by making sure that the
meeting or event sites are accessible.
 Do not assume a person cannot perform a certain task. With
the right accommodations and support, a person with a
disability can be very productive.
 People with disabilities are individuals with families, jobs,
hobbies, likes and dislikes, and problems and joys. While the
disability is an integral part of who they are, it alone does not
define them. Treat them as individuals.
Privacy and Diversity Office
January 2014
Credits and Closing Thoughts
 AbilityOne Program: The largest source of employment for people
who are blind or have other severe disabilities in the United States.
www.AbilityOne.org
 Job Accommodation Network: The leading source of free, expert,
and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and
disability employment issues. Visit www.askjan.org or call JAN at
800-526-7234 (Voice) or 877-781-9403 (TTY).
 U.S. Department of Labor – Office of Disability Employment
Policy (ODEP): Promotes a world in which people with disabilities
have unlimited employment opportunities. www.dol.gov/odep/
 United Spinal Association – Disability Etiquette Guide.
www.unitedspinal.org
Privacy and Diversity Office
January 2014

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