In society, the code of behaviour of how we interact with people is called etiquette. However, when it comes to interacting with those affected by disability, we can sometimes be unsure of the etiquette to use, this factsheet will help.
Communication – When it comes to communicating with a person who is affected by a disability, are you aware of behaviours you may be displaying or even the language you use?
Disability etiquette ensures that communication is respectful and inclusive and promotes a two-way dialogue. A person with a disability may take longer to respond and need extra time to process information.
When it comes to the behaviours we display or the language we use, it can reveal a lot about a person’s attitude and perception of a situation or person. Be as relaxed as you would with any other person if you are tense or uncomfortable it will make the conversation tense and uncomfortable.
Respect for others
Being mindful of our actions and showing respect to a person regardless of their ability, background, or race. Some may want to explain in more detail their disability than others. Provide support to the person if they chose to disclose information as this can sometimes involve painful memories.
Treat the person as a person. Ask what their needs are and respond appropriately. If you are unsure, then say you don’t know. Ensure that the conversation is inclusive and two-way.
Don’t assume because you are familiar with the person’s disability you know the person’s needs. Don’t automatically assume because the person has a disability they have a lack of ability.
Some disabilities will vary from day to day and don’t assume that the person will be the same every day.
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