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Do's And Don'ts Of Disability Etiquette

From IndependenceFirst, providing help for people with disabilities:

DO: Use "people first" language to respect that people with disabilities aren't defined by their disability, they are people first, disability second ("OUT" terms: "handicapped," "the disabled," "wheelchair-bound," "confined to a wheelchair." "IN" terms: "people with disabilities.")

DO: Ask and don't assume someone needs or wants help even if they appear to be struggling with mobility.

DO: Think of a wheelchair or other mobility aide as a part of the user's personal space. Don't lean on it, push it without asking, put your feet upon it, etc.

DO: Speak directly to people with disabilities and with age-appropriate language-not to the people who may be accompanying them.

DO: Bend down or pull up a chair to speak to someone in a wheelchair at their eye level. It is less stressful on their neck and more respectful.

DON'T: Pity or feel sorry for people who have disabilities or use wheelchairs. Wheelchairs are empowering and allow people with disabilities to get around where they wouldn't otherwise be as free...often they can move faster than people who walk!

DON'T: Put people with disabilities "up on a pedestal." They aren't "superheroes," "brave," "courageous," or "inspiring;" rather, people with disabilities just want to do the same things that anyone without a disability wants to do.

DON'T: Touch someone or pat them on the head-it is patronizing and not respectful.

DON'T: Assume someone who is Deaf can read lips. Lip reading is very uncommon.

DON'T: Pet a service animal who is at work. Ask if it is OK with their owner.

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