Interacting with and Writing about Individuals with Disabilities

Unless one lives with or works among people with different kinds of conditions or disabilities, how can one learn respectful and comfortable ways to interact with them or write about them?

United Spinal Association published and freely shares Disability Etiquette. Here is an example of the tips you will find in this great guide:

“If you are giving directions [to a person who is blind], give specific, non-visual information.  Rather than say, β€œGo to your right when you reach the office supplies,” which
assumes the person knows where the office supplies are, say, β€œWalk forward
to the end of this aisle and make a full right.”

Disability Etiquette offers good things to know when interacting with people who are Deaf, who have epilepsy, who are of short stature, who have mental illness, who use a service animal, and many more common conditions.

Another challenge can be to use the most respectful and inclusive phrasing when writing or speaking about people with disabilities or to them.  The ADA National Network has produced Guidelines for Writing about People with Disabilities, which in just four pages truly clarifies best practice for writing which carries over naturally to our speaking.  The first premise is:  In general, refer to the person first and the disability second. 

The guide offers tables for easy reference as well as insightful perspectives for using language the most inclusive way.

Please take a look at the two documents attached below.  Download them freely for your own use.  We keep learning and it just gets better.