Disability Etiquette

Communicating with People who have Disabilities

Many people feel uncomfortable around a person with special needs because they’re afraid they may say or do the wrong thing, embarrassing or even insulting the person.  In its Tips for Disability Awareness literature, The National Easter Seals Society offers excellent advice on talking to people with disabilities:

Also Remember:

Put people first, not their disability - Say "person with a disability," "visitor who is deaf," or ‘‘visitor who uses a wheelchair.’’ Also see:  People First Language.

Avoid identifying a group of people as a disability category - Say "scientists who are blind," or "people with disabilities" instead of "the blind" or "the disabled."

Remember to distinguish between "disabilities" and "handicaps" - A "disability" applies to a person. A "handicap" describes a barrier in the environment or to facilities such as handicap-accessible bathrooms, parking spaces, and building entrances.