Disability Awareness Information
- People First Language
- Disability Etiquette
- Caregiver's Bill of Rights
People First Language
(Taken from the Utah Developmental Disabilities People First Web page-Adult Language Booklet, Page 1)
Who are People with Disabilities?
People with disabilities are first and foremost People. They are people who have individual abilities interests and needs. For the most part, they are ordinary individuals seeking to live ordinary lives. People with Disabilities are moms, dads, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors, coworkers, students, and teachers. About 49 million Americans (one out of every five individuals) have a disability. Their contributions Enrich our communities and society as they live and share their lives.
Historically, people with disabilities have been regarded as individuals to be pitied, feared or ignored. People with disabilities continue to seek accurate portrayals that present a respectful, positive view of individuals as active participants of society, in regular social, work and home environments.
Every individual regardless of sex, age, race or ability deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. As part of the effort to end discrimination and segregation in employment education and our communities, it is important to eliminate prejudicial language. Like other minorities, the people with disabilities developed preferred terminology called PEOPLE FIRST LANGUAGE. More then a fad or political correctness, People First Language is an objective way of discussing disability issues. It eliminates generalizations, assumptions and stereotypes by focusing on the person rather discussing disability issues. It eiminates generalizations, assumptions an stereotypes by focusing on the
person rather then the disability. As the term implies People First Language refers to the individual first and disability second. It's the difference in saying "autistic child" and "a child with autism." While some people may not use People First Language, it's important you don't repeat negative terms that stereotype, devalue or discriminate, just as you would avoid racial slurs. Most of the time the disability isn't even relevant to the conversation you may be having.
What should I say?
Be sensitive when choosing words you use. Here are a few guidelines on appropriate language.
- Recognize that people with disabilities are ordinary people with common goals for a home, a job and a family.
- Talk about people in ordinary terms.
- Never equate a person with a disability such as referring to someone as retarded or epileptic. These labels are simply medical diagnoses.
- Use People First Language to tell what a person HAS, not what a person IS.
- Emphasize abilities not limitations. Say, for example, "a man walks with crutches" instead of, "he is crippled."
- Avoid negative words that imply tragedy such as afflicted with, suffers, victim, prisoner and unfortunate.
• What would you do when faced with someone with a paralyzed or missing right arm? Most people, even those with a prosthetic arm or hand, can shake hands. It is appropriate to use your left hand if the person cannot respond with their right hand. The disabled person will usually give you a cue by extending an arm or hand as best they can. It is best not to just go ahead and grab an arm that may turn out to be a painful experience for the person. The "good old buddy" pat on the back or shoulder is never appropriate behavior.
• Have you ever noticed that when you speak to someone who doesn't understand English that you tend to raise your voice, thinking that somehow shouting the words will rattle their brain into understanding? We do the same thing when we address people with disabilities. There is usually no need to raise your voice. However, when someone has a cognitive impairment it can help to slow down and speak clearly. Use their first name only if everyone else is being referred to by their first name. Better yet, ask for their preference. This is a common mistake amongst physicians who refer to their patients informally but, then want the patient to call them "Doctor".
• Treat the person as an adult. Don't patronize the individual because they have a physical or mental disability. Don't pat people in wheelchairs on the head or shoulder in place of a proper greeting. Sit down and make eye contact. This is critical! When you are seated in your office and someone enters, don't you usually stand up to greet them? When speaking to someone in a wheelchair or lying in bed, look around, pull up a chair, sit down and get at eye level. I remember being a patient in the hospital and how uncomfortable I felt lying in the bed and trying to have a conversation with my physician as he towered over me. Don't sit on the patient's bed unless invited to do so. How would you like someone sitting on your clean linens?
• Some people want help, others do not. It is acceptable to ask if you can get the door, pick up their canes or push their wheelchair. But don't feel hurt if your offer is declined and the person wishes to be independent.
You made it through the greeting and introductions. Now what?
• Always speak to the disabled individual directly and not through someone else. As physicians, we make this mistake all the time. We will speak to family members and friends instead of addressing the person directly. Even if the person has a cognitive disability, their presence must be recognized and respected. People are individuals who happen to have disabilities and should not be addressed as "the T4 paraplegic in the corner" or the "stroke in room 603."
• When having a conversation with a person with a physical disability, use normal everyday language and relax. We can slip into an unpleasant and demeaning habit of speaking to the disabled person as if they were a child. You may have to make a physical accommodation, such as sitting down. Remember, the individual is otherwise no different than you.
• Most of us are poor listeners. When someone has a speech impairment, take your time and listen. Don't try to always finish their sentence. That can be difficult when you are in a hurry, but never to pretend to understand if you do not -- it is acceptable to say so. If the person has a visual impairment, identify yourself and let them know where you are what you intend to do.
(Taken from the University of Northern Iowa's Office of Compliance and Equity Management)
If you have not had many interactions with persons with disabilities, you may not know exactly how to act. For example, you may ask yourself “how do I talk to someone in a wheelchair?” or “how do I interact with someone who is blind or deaf?” This article provides some guidelines to ensure respectful and equal treatment of people with disabilities.
- Individuals with disabilities are people!
- Individuals with disabilities are whole people!
- They expect to be treated with the same dignity and respect that you do.
- Just because someone has a disability does not mean he/she is disabled.
- Remember, he/she is a person, NOT a disability.
- Never patronize them by patting them on the head or back.
- Offer to shake their hand, even if it appears as if they have limited use of their arms or have an artificial limb. Simply the gesture will help them feel accepted and create a warmer environment for communication.
- For those who cannot shake hands, lightly touch the individual on the shoulder or arm to welcome their presence.
- Look at and speak directly to the person, not through a companion, care-taker, or interpreter.
- Treat adults as adults.
- Don’t apologize if you use an expression such as “I gotta run” or “See you later” that relates to the person’s disability. These expressions are part of everyday language and it is likely the apology will be more offensive than the expression.
- Don’t pet or feed service animals or guide dogs as they are working.
- When giving directions, make sure you consider things such as the weather, locations of ramps/curb-cuts, and other physical obstacles that may hinder travel for individuals with disabilities.
- Never assume….many people mistakenly identify these individuals as being mentally retarded or mentally ill. Make sure to be patient in finding out which communication method works best for them.
- Be 100 percent attentive when conversing with an individual who has difficulty speaking.
- If you are in a noisy and/or crowded environment, don’t panic. Just try and move to a quieter location to talk.
- Let them complete their own sentences. Be patient and do not try to speak for them. Do not pretend to understand; instead, tell them what you do understand and allow them to respond.
- Do not be corrective, but rather, encouraging.
- When necessary, it’s OK to ask short questions that require short answers.
- Things to Remember
- Individual who use wheelchairs may require different degrees of assistance.
- Some who use wheelchairs may also use canes or other assistive devices and may not need his/her wheelchair all the time.
- Do not automatically assist the individual without permission. It is ok to offer assistance. However, if the offer is not accepted, respect his/her request!
- If you will be speaking with an individual in a wheelchair for more than a couple minutes, find a place where you can sit down to give the individual a more comfortable viewing angle.
- A person’s wheelchair is part of his/her own personal space. Never move, lean on, rock, or touch his/her wheelchair without permission. In addition to being rude, it can be dangerous.
- Do not assume that having to use a wheelchair is a tragedy. Wheelchairs can be a means of freedom to fully engage in life.
- Do not shout at a hearing impaired person unless they request you to. Just speak in a normal tone but make sure your lips are visible.
- Keep conversations clear and find a quiet location to communicate.
- If you are asked to repeat yourself, answering “nothing, it’s not important” implies the person is not worth repeating yourself for. It is demeaning; be patient and comply.
- Show consideration by facing the light source and keeping things (such as cigarettes or your hands) away from you mouth while speaking.
- When meeting someone with a visual disability, identify yourself and others with you (e.g. “Jane is on my left and Jack is on my right.”). Continue to identify the person with whom you are speaking.
- If you go out to dinner with an acquaintance with a visual disability, ask if you can describe what is on the menu and what is on his/her plate.
- When walking with someone with a visual impairment, offer them your arm for guidance. They will likely keep a half-step behind to anticipate curbs and steps.
Disability vs. Handicap
- A disability is a condition caused by such things as an accident or trauma, disease, or genetics that limits a person’s vision, hearing, speech, mobility, or mental function.
- A handicap is a constraint imposed upon a person, regardless of that person’s ability or disability. These constraints can be physical or attitudinal. For example, stairs and curbs are handicaps imposed on those who use wheelchairs.
Always remember that the person is not the condition. Keep all your speech person focused, not disability focused.
A person with a disability
Handicap; handicapped person
A person who has mental or developmental disabilities
Moron; retarded; feebleminded
Able-bodied; able to walk, see, etc
Healthy; normal- Just because someone has a disability does not mean they are not healthy
|A wheelchair user; walks with aid||Confined/restricted to a wheelchair|
|Mental or emotional disability||Crazy; insane|
|A person who is deaf/ hearing impairment||Deaf and dumb; mute|
|A person with epilepsy||An epileptic|
He has cerebral palsy
|He is a cerebral palsy victim|
|A successful/productive person||
Person who has overcome his/her disability.
Person who is courageous.
Avoid terms which carry a negative connotation:
Abnormal, Afflicted, Confined, Crippled, Defective, Handicap, Invalid, Lame, Palsied, Retarded, Stricken, Sufferer, Victim, Withered
Use empowering, individualized vocabulary; don't clump them with phrases like "the blind" or "the disabled."
Employment Do’s and Don'ts:
- have written job descriptions identifying all the essential functions of the job.
- learn where to find and recruit individuals with disabilities.
- train supervisors on how to make reasonable accommodations.
- remember that those protected by the ADA include individual who have AIDS, cancer, brain-injured, deaf, blind, mentally retarded and learning disabled.
- make forms available to those with visual disabilities.
- ask if a person has a disability during an employment interview!!
- assume that if a person is disabled, he/she will be better suited for some jobs more than others.
- assume reasonable accommodations will be expensive.
- assume your workplace is accessible.
OTHER ONLINE DISABILITY ETIQUETTE INFORMATION:
Guide To Etiquette And Behavior For Working With Persons With Disabilities
By Thomas E. Grayson, Instructor.
-This online guide discusses etiquette specific to the following disabilities: blind and visually impaired, deaf and hearing impaired, wheelchair use, speech impairments.
-To view a guide for Reasonable Accommodation in the Workplace, go to the City of Sacramento web site.
-To download the United Spinal Association's Disability Etiquette booklet, visit their online site.
-To view the Courtesy Rules of Blindness, visit the Blind net web site.
Caregiver's Bill of Rights
by Jo Horne
Author of Caregiving: Helping an Aging Loved One
I have the right:
To take care of myself. This is not an act of selfishness. It will enable me to take better care of my loved one.
I have the right:
To seek help from others even though my loved one may object. I recognize the limits of my own endurance and strength.
I have the right:
To maintain facets of my own life that do not include the person I care for, just as I would if he or she were healthy. I know that I do everything that I reasonably can for this person, and I have the right to do some things for myself.
I have the right:
To get angry, be depressed and express other difficult emotions occasionally.
I have the right:
To reject any attempt by my loved one (either conscious or unconscious) to manipulate me through guilt, anger or depression.
I have the right:
To receive consideration, affection, forgiveness and acceptance from my loved one for as long as I offer these qualities in return.
I have the right:
To take pride in what I am accomplishing and to applaud the courage it sometimes takes to meet the needs of my loved one.
I have the right:
To protect my individuality and my right to make a life for myself that will sustain me when my loved one no longer needs my full-time help.
I have the right:
To expect and demand that as new strides are made in finding resources to aid physically and mentally impaired persons in our country, similar strides will be made toward aiding and supporting caregivers.