Disability Etiquette and Inclusion in the Workplace

  • Relax and enjoy getting to know your colleagues or guests as people and as professionals.
  • Ask before you provide assistance.
  • Do not assume that a person with an apparent disability needs assistance; offering assistance in broad terms such as, “Let me know if you need anything,” opens the door without assumptions of inability.
  • Think in terms of “Disability Pride” language, using powerful words such as: “wheelchair user,” as opposed to “confined to a wheelchair” or “wheelchair person.”
  • Do not touch a person’s mobility equipment.
  • Be sensitive about physical contact in consideration of things like possible pain or balance.
  • Always direct your conversation that is meant for the person with a disability to them and not to their personal assistant, interpreter, companion, or colleague.
  • If convenient and natural, put yourself at the person’s eye level when engaging in a conversation; rather than kneeling, pull up a chair.
  • Identify yourself when approaching the person or entering an ongoing conversation; announce when you leave the conversation or the room.
  • When serving as a sighted guide, offer your arm or shoulder rather than grabbing the person’s arm or pushing the person from the back.
  • Describe the directions and obstacles when serving as a sighted guide.
  • Resist the temptation to pet or talk to a guide or service animal; ask the person first.
  • Gain the person’s attention before starting a conversation (e.g., tap the person gently on the shoulder or arm or by a hand signal).
  • If the individual uses a sign language interpreter, speak directly to the person, not the interpreter; keep your eyes on the individual and not on the interpreter.
  • Face the person, speak in normal tones, and avoid the instinct to shout, as it doesn’t help.

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Open to All

Open to All

At a time of deep divisions, we’re joining together from all walks of life and work to build a thriving and inclusive nation where all are welcome.