From Awkward to Awesome: 8 Disability Etiquette Tips

by Jun 3, 2024

Home » The Disability Inclusion Blog » From Awkward to Awesome: 8 Disability Etiquette Tips

Let’s be honest. We all have moments when we are unsure of the best way to interact with co-workers.

This is where workplace etiquette comes in. It’s meant to eliminate those awkward moments–creating a respectful, professional, and positive work environment for everyone. Fostering that environment means understanding and respecting the needs of individuals with disabilities.

By following these eight best practices for communication and interaction, you can build a more inclusive environment, enhancing productivity and profitability.

Communication:

  • Use Person-First Language: Focus on the individual, not the disability. Say “person with a disability” instead of “disabled person.”
  • Use Clear and Direct Communication: Consider colleagues’ diverse communication needs. Speak in a normal tone and at a reasonable pace, and if necessary, provide written materials in alternative formats. Above all, be patient and allow extra time for communication if needed.
  • Respect Individual Preferences: Recognize that each person’s experience with their disability is unique. Always respect their preferences regarding disclosure and communication.
  • Grant Accommodations: Consider and respect accommodations that individuals with disabilities may need, such as accessible seating or communication aids.

Interaction:

  • Ask Before Offering Help: Respect people’s autonomy and allow them to express their needs and preferences.
  • Avoid Making Assumptions: Don’t make assumptions about what someone can or cannot do based on their disability. Focus on their abilities and skills rather than perceived limitations.
  • Respect Personal Space and Assistive Tools: Treat individuals with disabilities with the same respect for personal space as anyone else. Avoid touching mobility aids or service animals without permission.
  • Be Inclusive in Conversations: Direct your communication to the person with a disability, even if they have an interpreter present.
  • Consider Accessibility: When organizing events or spaces, ensure that venues, websites, and materials are accessible to everyone.

Every person’s experience with disability is unique. It’s critical to take the initiative to educate coworkers, managers, and team leaders about different types of disabilities and appropriate etiquette. And, there’s no better learning tool for your workforce than iDisability.

Let us help you replace awkward with awesome. Elevate your workplace etiquette with iDisability learning modules.


Schedule a 2024 iDisability Demo

Andrew D. Houghton

Andrew D. Houghton

President, Disability Inclusion Solutions

Nationally Recognized Accessibility Expert. Creating Innovative Disability Inclusion Solutions. Certified DOBE.

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