Guidelines for Communicating with Persons with Disabilities

Guidelines for Communicating with Persons with Disabilities

Here are some guidelines to follow from the UCPA when communicating with persons with disabilities.

  1. Speak directly rather than through a companion or sign language interpreter who may be present.
  2. Offer to shake hands when introduced. People with limited hand use or an artificial limb can usually shake hands and offering the left hand is an acceptable greeting.
  3. Always identify yourself and others who may be with you when meeting someone with a visual disability. When conversing in a group, remember to identify the person to whom you are speaking.
  4. When dining with a friend who has a visual disability, ask if you can describe what is on his or her plate.
  5. If you offer assistance, wait until the offer is accepted. Then listen or ask for instructions.
  6. Treat adults as adults. Address people with disabilities by their first names only when extending that familiarity to all others. Never patronize people in wheelchairs by patting them on the head or shoulder.
  7. Do not lean against or hang on someone’s wheelchair. Bear in mind that people with disabilities treat their chairs as extensions of their bodies.
  8. Never distract a work animal from their job without the owner’s permission.