Some Basic Information
about Disabilities and Interacting with People who have disAbilities.
one of the largest minority groups in America!
Because a person with
a hidden disability appears to be "okay", he or she is expected to be totally
self-sufficient with no limitations in ability. If a person does not disclose
the disability, her or she might be labeled lazy, complaining, or uncooperative.
If the disability "comes out of the closet", a person might be pitied or
shunned because of fear or misunderstanding. Because the disability is
not visible, requests for accommodations may be seen by others as a ploy
to get attention, pity or special advantage, or as an excuse not to participate
or produce up to expectations. And because other people cannot tell when
the symptoms of hidden disabilities are present, it may appear that the
person with a hidden disability is moody, disagreeable or unpleasant for
People with disabilities
comprise one of the largest minority groups in the country, approximately
23% of the population. It is a group which cuts across racial, ethnic,
religious, economic and social lines. It is the only minority group whose
members are not necessarily a eligible by birth, but more often by circumstance.
It may now -- or may someday — include a friend, a loved one, a co-worker,
or you. Membership is involuntary and unwilling, and may happen at any
age. It may happen as a result of genetic or familial predisposition (Diabetes,
Retinitis Pigmentosum, gradual hearing loss), a severe illness (meningitis,
polio), no known reason (Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia) or just dumb
luck (auto accident, fall, sports injury, work-related injury).
Like other minority
groups, people with disabilities face barriers put in place more by attitude,
myth and misunderstanding than by fact. Barriers created by prejudice,
stereotype, fear and ignorance are far more debilitating to individuals
than the actual effects of their disabilities. These barriers can be eliminated
with education, awareness, understanding and just plain old common sense.
As one person with paralysis put it:
don't have to deal withmy disability; I've already dealt with it. Deal
with me, the person, unless you are fascinated with my feet."
exactly does "disability"mean?
means the inability to easily do, or the inability to do at all, one or
more things that most people can do. Disability usually affects a surprisingly
narrow range of activity. Disabilities may be:
are pretty obvious; it is hard to disguisea wheelchair. On the other hand,
blindness, hearing disabilities, medical disabilities and others are invisible.
Nonetheless, they may cause people who deal with hidden disabilities to
make adaptations or do things differently than people who do not have such
might include Multiple Sclerosis, epilepsy, full or partial deafness, psychiatric
disorders, or learning disabilities. They also include medical disabilities
such as cancer, diabetes, ostomy, lung disease, kidney failure, hemophilia
or heart conditions. Many people with hidden disabilities experience chronic
or intermittent pain, chronic or intermittent muscle weakness, intermittent
blurred vision, dizziness, ringing in the ears, blackouts, seizures of
varying intensity, or other symptoms which have effects ranging from annoying
to debilitating. Be aware, too, that the emotional pain caused by hidden
disabilities is every bit as real as physical pain.
Some people with
hidden disabilities may themselves not realize or acknowledge that they
have a disability. They develop coping mechanisms without being fully aware
of doing so, or feel frustration because they are unable to perform up
to their own or others' expectations.
assistive devices enable people with disabilities to accomplish activities
more easily and efficiently. In many cases, the use of assistive devices
enables a person with a disability to do things as easily as someone who
does not have a disability. Computers that speak or recognize speech, that
can be used by touching a wand to a screen, or even by just looking at
a keyboard display are examples of the use of very high technology for
assistive devices. Low technology devices include reachers or grabbers
that originally were invented by shopkeepers who needed to reach items
on a top shelf. When you stop to think about it, almost everyone uses assistive
technology, whether or not they have a real disability. Eyeglasses, a letter-opener,
a straw, a wagon - all are examples of technology that makes life easier.
with disabilities are people who happen to have disabilities
with disabilities live, breathe, learn, teach, eat, work, sleep, use grocery
stores, get parking tickets, have ambitions and goals, date and marry,
make love, have babies, raise families, make friends, tell jokes, laugh,
play, celebrate, mourn, cry, pay taxes and die. Disabilities are not necessarily
the be-all and end-all of their existence, any more than eye color is.
People with disabilities have the same goals in life that most others have.
They want the to have same opportunities, and to enjoy the same respect,
dignity and self- esteem that people without disabilities expect as a right.
without disabilities are a part of the community for every person with
a disability. This environment can be as friendly, welcoming, neutral or
hostile as the person without the disability chooses to make it.
pleased to meet you; are you pleased to meet me?
a person with a disability is meeting a person, not a creature from
outer space. But many people without disabilities find themselves feeling
awkward, fearful or self- conscious without really knowing why. Yes, some
of us look funny, talk funny, walk funny and may even dress funny. Disabilities
-- and the people who have them -- are as varied as manners and habits
in different parts of the country. True story: A salesman from North Carolina
was sent to visit an Amish farmer in Pennsylvania. The farmer looker at
the man with distrust and said "you talk funny." Without missing a beat,
the salesman said "so do you." He went on with the presentation and made
the sale. The point of the story is the best you can and should do is to
approach each individual and each situation as you would any other, using
courtesy and common sense.
with disabilities share the same basic needs that every human has: the
need to feel safe and secure, the need for shelter and food, the need for
family and friends, the need to feel useful and contribute to society,
the need to build self-esteem, to accept responsibilities and to feel a
sense of accomplishment. Everyone - including people with disabilities
- wants to be judged for who they are, not what they look like or talk
explode some myths with facts:
People with disabilities are not necessarily
"sick". Most are very healthy. You can't "catch" a disability.
Disabilities are frequently permanent.
Miracles sometimes happen, but most people with disabilities do not wait
around for them. We accept them; it's okay for you to accept them. By the
way, having a disability is not the result of possession by the devil or
a curse of God. Many people with disabilities have deep religious beliefs.
They consider themselves no more "blessed" or "not blessed" than anyone
else in the population, and if miracles do not happen for them, it is not
because God has with held His Grace.
People with disabilities can and do
engage in intimate relationships, courtship and sex. They get married and
have children. They are generally no more predisposed to have children
with disabilities as the general population, although some traits are familial.
Don't pity us for our disability;
don't admire us for the way we handle our lives. This is our kind of "normal."
People with disabilities are not all
"poor and downtrodden," and do not rely on charity and handouts. Many own
homes; many more would like to own homes. Many are employed; many more
want to be employed, if businesses would hire them. Many own their own
businesses, and hold positions of authority.
Some people with disabilities are jerks;
some people without disabilities are jerks. That's their problem.
what are the differences?
single most important difference is that people with disabilities have
to adapt to a physical and sensory environment designed for people without
disabilities. If the environment were designed without barriers, disabilities
would be relatively unimportant. People without disabilities are a part
of the environment and there are some things that people without disabilities
can do to change the environment; otherwise, the rules of conduct and social
interaction are the same as for everybody else.
you are a person without a disability, have read this far, it is likely
that you care enough to learn and to make the small adaptations needed
to interact with people with disabilities in a positive way. If so, you
will be in good company, because people with disabilities are the greatest
adapters of all.
to Disability Etiquette 101: a disability primer
some basic guidelines will help, here are just a few:
People with disabilities know they
have a disability, and know that you know. It's okay to make appropriate
references to it. And don't worry about common expressions like "I've got
to run" or "see you later." People with disabilities use them, too.
Like you, people with disabilities
prefer to emphasize what they can do, and not worry about what they
cannot do. Sometimes what they can do takes a little longer. Please be
patient and considerate; try to match the pace.
Treat people with disabilities with
respect. A patronizing attitude is demeaning and disrespectful. Use the
same "age-appropriate" behavior that you normally would with anyone else.
If you want to offer help, feel free
to offer. But wait until the offer is accepted before you move. Then be
sure to ask what kind of help is needed. Inappropriate help impedes progress
at the least, and can actually create a danger or hazard both to the helper
and the person being "helped." If your offer is refused, please do not
be offended; what you see as a struggle is just a part of daily routine
for the person with a disability.
Talk directly to a person with a disability,
and not to a companion, attendant or interpreter.
Some people with disabilities use "service
animals." In addition to service dogs for people who are blind, dogs --
and sometimes monkeys -- are trained to assist people with mobility limitations
and hearing disabilities. Never try to pat, play or otherwise interfere
with a "working" animal, and keep other pets or animals away. Also, these
animals may legally accompany their masters where other animals are not
permitted to go.
Don't restrain children from their
natural curiosity. Allow them to ask questions. It is much better for them
to get accurate information and learn respect, than to grow up with fairy
tales or, much worse, fear. However, do not allow them to be disrespectful,
or to play with or otherwise interfere with equipment or devices that a
person with disabilities may use.
|You cannot go wrong when you treat
all people with respect and dignity, and in a manner appropriate to their
age. Put the "Golden Rule" to use. Attitudes are the real barriers to full
accessibility and acceptance.
don't want to say the wrong thing!"
people have questions about what words to use when talking about disabilities,
and how to interact with people who have disabilities. Here are a few common-sense
guidelines to help ease conversation.
"people first" language: Say "people with disabilities," "people who are
blind," "people who are deaf" as opposed to "the disabled", "the blind,"
"the deaf", "the retarded" or "the handicapped."
references which diminish dignity and magnify the disability: "Victim of,"
"afflicted by," "suffers from," "wheelchair-bound" and similar terminology
is demeaning. It also has the effect of putting the disability in control
of the person. Instead, refer to the person who "uses a wheelchair", "sustained
an injury" or "has [a condition]". This choice of words puts the person
in control of the disability. Also to be avoided are such terms as "crippled",
"deaf and dumb", "deaf-mute," and "retarded."
trendy euphemisms and cute descriptions: "Physically challenged," "handi-capable,"
and "special" are patronizing and inaccurate.
language and context which conveys either superhuman qualities or pitiable
condition: People with disabilities do not wish to be seen as "courageous,"
"brave," "unfortunate," or otherwise measured against a separate standard
without disabilities are "people without disabilities": "Normal," "able-
bodied" or "healthy" implies that a person with a disability is abnormal,
in-able and unhealthy.
refers to a limitation in activity or performance of functions.
For example, the loss of an eye causes an impairment in the ability to
judge distances. A traumatic brain injury may cause an impairment in memory
or other cognitive functions. Alcoholism is not in itself an impairment,
but consumption of alcohol may cause an impairment in judgment.
refers to a condition that affects performance of certain functions.
For example: blindness is a disability which prevents someone from driving
a car. A heart condition is a disability which prevents someone from performing
One more thought about
the word "normal:" normal means different things to different people. People
with disabilities just have a different definition of "normal."
describes a barrier or unfavorable condition external to an individual
and distinct from his or her disability. For example: A wheelchair-user
is handicapped by stairs. A person who relies on a speech-synthesizer is
handicapped when the unit malfunctions. A golfer may be handicapped by
the use of unfamiliar rented clubs.
to know more? "Disability Etiquette 201"
disability is different, and every person deals with his or her own disability
in a very personal way depending on his or her personality and ability.
There are some disability- specific generalities, though, that can be a
guide through most social situations. In "Etiquette 201", we will consider
tips for specific types of disability.
a person without a disability, a wheelchair is often an emotion-laden symbol
of helplessness and confinement. To a wheelchair-user, it is just the opposite;
it is a means of mobility and freedom. Some pointers:
and foremost, never use or block accessible parking places or curb cuts,
even for "just a few seconds." Wheelchair users need the extra wide space
to unload their chairs safely. Once out of the vehicle, if they cannot
access the sidewalk quickly and safely, they are at risk in the street
or traffic lanes. There is nothing so unpleasant as waiting in cold rain
for someone to move a vehicle from in front of a curb cut. People who use
wheelchairs generally cannot use umbrellas.
person's wheelchair is part of his personal space, as intimate as a belt
buckle is to an ambulatory person. Do not use it to lean on.
push or move a person using a wheelchair without asking first, and allow
the person to give directions on the best way to help. If the person's
hands are on the wheels, broken fingers could result. Similarly, if you
are pushing with permission, be sure to tell the person when you are letting
wheelchair users transfer to chairs, to their cars, bar stools, etc., with
little or no assistance. If they do, never interfere without asking if
assistance is wanted, and never move a wheelchair or any other assistive
device out of the owner's reach.
stairs, curbs and other architectural barriers do present problems and
help would be appreciated. However, be sure to ask first, and find out
specifically what to do, how to do it and why. If a person appears to be
struggling with a opening a door, ask before grabbing it. Opening a door
is a real balancing act; a sudden unexpected jerk of the door can throw
the person off balance and cause a fall.
people who use wheelchairs can also stand or walk short distances with
crutches, canes or other aids. Using a wheelchair is not a sign of laziness;
it is faster, safer and a reasonable means of conserving energy.
approaching a person using a wheelchair in a hallway or on a sidewalk,
allow enough room for you to pass each other comfortably and continue on.
It is not necessary to stop and flatten yourself against a wall or jump
off the curb. The wheelchair user will not run into you, honest!
talking for any length of time to a person who uses a wheelchair, sit down
so that both of you can talk at eye level. For a shorter conversation,
or when no chairs are available, stand a few feet away. Do not lean
over a person using a chair, or stoop using the chair as a support.
who use wheelchairs generally cannot look backwards easily. If approaching
someone from the rear, identify yourself or wait until you can be seen
before you begin talking. One of the rudest things you can do is approach
from the back and lean over a person, forcing him or her to strain to look
not treat adults as children. Never pat a wheelchair user on the
you are responsible for making arrangements for a meeting or outing, consider
physical accessibility. Lifting or carrying a wheelchair and its user up
and down stairs is undignified, humiliating and dangerous for both the
user and those lifting or carrying. Many so-called ‘accessible' entrances
are at the back door. The back door is no more acceptable today than it
was during the great Civil Rights movement in the 1050's and 60's.
and other visual disabilities
are many kinds of visual disabilities, and not all people with visual disabilities
are totally without sight. Some literally have "tunnel vision," able to
see out of a pin-hole in their eyes. Some only have peripheral vision.
Some function better in extra-bright light whereas some conditions of blindness
are aggravated by bright light and do better in low light.
white cane and service dog are as symbolic as wheelchairs. Many of the
same ground rules apply. Never assist without asking, and then ask how
to be of assistance. If you are helping, don't let go without asking or
announcing the intention first. Never grab or touch a white cane,
and never move it from where it was left by the user. If it is in
your way, ask if they would mind moving it for you.
is a myth that people with visual disabilities compensate by ultra-development
of hearing or touch. Like the general population, some may have above average
sensitivity in hearing or touch, or may simply be more aware of the sounds
and feel of their environment. But do not assume it.
a small percentage — about 10% — of people who are blind read Braille.
Others use tape recordings, readers or other methods. People who have "low
vision" may use magnifiers for regular-sized print. They often appreciate
printed material in large (18 point) bold block letters double-spaced.
Highly specialized computers and other equipment may "read" material with
an electronic voice.
if assistance is needed, and if so, what kind.
yourself when you begin talking to a person who is blind. If you join a
conversation or group, announce your presence. Never touch a person with
a visual disability unless he or she knows you are there. Let him or her
know when you leave.
is generally appreciated. Offer to read signs, menus, etc. On the street,
mention that a light has changed, traffic has stopped or started, or if
there is a hazard.
the clock face to describe the location of things on a table top. For example,
when dining, explain that a water glass is at two o'clock, and the bread
and butter plate is at 10 o'clock next to the dinner plate. The food on
a plate can be described the same way.
guiding a person who is blind, allow the person to take your arm. Describe
changes in elevation (steps, uneven sidewalk, etc.), warn of changes in
direction, and tell him or her when you are going to stop.
disabilities run the gamut from a slight lisp to total inability to speak.
Alternatives include high tech accommodations such as synthesized voices
and keyboard devices. Low tech solutions include pencil and paper or picture
boards. A speech disability does not mean reduced intelligence. People
with speech limitations have things to say that are worth listening to.
Do not "talk down" to them unless you know they have a cognitive disability
as well as the speech limitation.
not be afraid to ask the person to repeat what he or she has said, even
if it takes several tries. Repeat what is said to make certain you understand.
Your honest efforts to understand are more appreciated than pretending
when you do not understand.
not try to finish the thought, supply words or interrupt. Stay calm and
be patient. The situation may be new for you but is "old hat" to the person
who is trying to speak with you.
"yes or no" questions.
shout; lack of hearing is not the problem.
to use a TTY or the Relay System to communicate by phone. Some people may
use faxes or prefer e-mail.
A picture board, alphabet board
or other visual communication may be used. Some people with speech limitations
use the same American Sign Language that people who are deaf use.
disabilities affect the way a persons brain receives and processes information.
Cognitive disabilities include mental retardation, brain injury, learning
disabilities, attention deficit disorder and others.
there has been a great deal of misunderstanding and confusion about the
variety of cognitive disabilities. People who have cognitive disabilities
are often confused with people who have mental illness or psychiatric disabilities.
Mental Illness refers to a person's thought processes, moods and emotions,
and has nothing to do with intelligence. Mental Illness may be temporary,
cyclical or episodic and often is curable or controllable with medication;
mental retardation is not. People with hearing loss, speech disabilities,
cerebral palsy and learning disabilities often were misdiagnosed as having
mental retardation or mental illness because of their inability to communicate
with hearing or voice.
retardation may have developed before birth or may be a result of infant
or very early childhood illness. The new definition of mental retardation,
by the American Association on Mental Retardation, states that an individual
is considered to have mental retardation based on three criteria:
Intellectual functioning level (IQ) is below 70-75;
skill areas" are communication, self-care, home living, social skills,
leisure, health and safety, self-direction, functional academics, community
use and work.
Significant limitations exist in two or more adaptive skill areas; and
The condition is present from childhood (age 18 or less).
a long time, it was assumed that people with mental retardation were incapable
of learning or leading productive lives. We now know that is untrue. In
reality, only about 15% of people with mental retardation are profoundly
disabled with the condition. People with profound mental retardation may
have limited communication abilities, but may use picture boards or other
means of communication. Fully 85% can read, write, work, drive, reason
and live productive, independent lives. People with mental retardation
may learn more slowly and may have a hard time using their knowledge, but
they are responsible, industrious and reliable to the same degree as the
rest of the population. People with mental retardation may marry and have
children who do not have mental retardation.
cognitive disabilities may be the result of brain injury (head trauma,
stroke, shaken baby syndrome, tumor or other medical condition) occurring
at any age, which results in an inability to process information or to
use knowledge efficiently. Short or long-term memory loss may affect the
ability to accomplish daily activities. For those who have no visible
symptoms of their disability, getting family, friends, employers and the
general community to understand their disability is a constant trial. Erratic
behavior or changes in mood may be construed as purposeful, leading to
strained relationships, arguments and misunderstandings.
on the area of the brain that has been affected, physical or emotional
disabilities may also be present. Brain injury may also result in full
or partial paraplegia (paralysis of the lower limbs), hemiplegia (paralysis
of one side of the body), quadriplegia (sometimes called tetraplegia,)
affecting all four limbs, or any number of other physical symptoms as well.
person with a learning disability has some kind of "short circuit"
in the brain which impedes the recognition or processing of information.
It may show itself as inability to read because letters and words appear
to be "scrambled" on a page, an inability to process information that is
heard, or an inability to spell or write legibly. Learning disabilities
do not reflect intelligence; people with learning disabilities may
be highly intelligent or even geniuses. Alternative learning methods must
be explored. For example, people with dyslexia may learn by using readers
or "books on tape".
Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder may also
show itself as a learning disability, difficulty in short or long-term
memory or information retention, or an inability to concentrate or focus
for an extended period of time. ADD or ADHD may be controlled with medications
as well as with other coping strategies and memory aids.
tips for all cognitive disabilities follow:
not use "baby talk" with persons who have cognitive disabilities. It is
demeaning and disrespectful, and will not make you any easier to understand.
the person if there is an alternative communication method or device that
would be beneficial. For example, information could be recorded on a tape
recorder that the individual could use as a prompt.
clear and concise in speaking with a person with a cognitivedisability.
Rephrase your words if necessary, and ask the person to paraphrase to make
certain he or she understands.
you are giving instructions, ask the person to repeat the instructions
or perform the task to make certain he or she understands. You may need
to demonstrate, write the instructions or repeat them several times. Instructions
may need to be broken down into the very simplest of steps and practiced
with cognitive disabilities may not respond to the social cues that are
ingrained in common social behavior. They may not pick up on the "cues"
to end a conversation, or understand when it is "their turn" to talk. They
are not being intentionally rude; it is just an uncontrollable part of
who they are.
patient. Understand that people with cognitive disabilities or mental retardation
are aware of and sensitive to their limitations.
non-judgmental. Like anyone else, people with cognitive disabilities deserve
to be treated with consideration, courtesy and respect.
disabilities ("Mental Illness")
terms "mental health" and "mental illness" sometimes are used interchangeably,
but there are distinct differences. "Mental health" refers to how a person
feels about himself and others, and how a person handles the demands of
daily living. It is the ability to balance life experiences with appropriate
disabilities affect the mind in a variety of ways with such effects as
impact on emotions, depression, misperception of reality, inappropriate
behavior, etc. Psychiatric disabilities results in the inability to cope
with life's ordinary routines. Mental illness is fairly common, affecting
about 22% of the American population with over 200 classified forms of
the disease. This rises to 28% if substance abuse is included. Serious
depression is a "whole body" disorder that affects the body, feelings,
thoughts and behaviors. "Winter Blues" is a genuine condition, called "Seasonal
Affective Disorder," caused by reaction to changes in environmental light.
These hidden disabilities are not just imagined ploys for attention; they
are very real and debilitating to the person experiencing them.
myths and stereotypes interfere with the ability to see people with psychiatric
disabilities as people like everyone else. Portrayals in books, movies,
TV and news media tend to emphasize frequent and random violence. The reality
is that violence among people with psychiatric disabilities is no more
common than among the general population. Many types of mental illness
or psychiatric disorders are treatable and curable with counseling. Many
others can be controlled with medication and diet. Most people live stable
and productive lives when the disability is treated properly over time.
may be a factor affecting the behavior of a person with a psychiatric disability,
but it important not to oversimplify the effects or causes of stress. As
with people in the general population, sources and levels of stress vary
from person to person, and situation to situation.
tips for interacting with people with psychiatric disabilities:
with cognitive disabilities, a person with a psychiatric disability may
not understand social "cues." They may begin or end conversations abruptly,
interrupt or not recognize that a conversation is ending. Help them understand
by being firm and direct, but not rude.
with psychiatric disabilities may overreact to perceived wrongs, become
stressed as a response to surroundings that may not cause such reaction
in others. If signs of such reaction begin to emerge, or if the person
becomes obviously upset, stay calm and do not over-react. Be supportive.
Help her feel safe and in control. Do not attempt to restrain her.
Speak calmly, in clear and concise manner directly to the person. Allow
the person to express her feelings verbally.
the person becomes delusional or hears voices, do not argue or try to convince
him that he are wrong. Do not act alarmed.
a person with a psychiatric disability what stresses him or what kind of
environment he prefers in order to function most efficiently and comfortably.
to get help from a family member, friend or counselor should the need arise.
Ask if a private or quiet space would help, and offer to take them there.
with everyone else, treat people with psychiatric disorders with respect.
and Hearing Loss
of the world depends on hearing for effective exchange of information and
contact with our environment. People who cannot hear or understand sound
and the various messages it may carry face communications barriers that
may limit educational, vocational, social and recreational opportunity.
Inability to hear and respond to audible alarms may put an individual at
risk of bodily harm or fatal accident. Inability to hear has no bearing
on a person's intelligence, but a lack of communication inherent in the
inability to hear in a hearing world may result in what the hearing world
perceives as inappropriate social interaction or behaviors. Historically,
this has lead to people with hearing loss to have been misdiagnosed as
mentally retarded or mentally ill.
may be born with deafness or as being hard of hearing, or may acquire a
hearing loss at any age. Ten percent of the population is estimated to
be deaf or hard of hearing to some degree; this includes children, teens,
and working-age adults in addition to senior citizens. Many people who
lose their hearing as they get older tend to deny their inability to hear.
things to remember about people who are deaf or have hearing loss:
all people who are deaf or profoundly hard of hearing (have no functional
unassisted hearing) use any version of sign language, and not all are proficient
in speechreading (lipreading). There are many different means of communication
used. Feel free to ask how best to communicate.
kinds of hearing loss cannot be helped with hearing aids.Some kinds of
hearing loss cannot be helped with hearing aids.
aids do not "correct" hearing the way glasses correct vision. Hearing aids
amplify all sound including distracting background noise, and hard of hearing
people often have difficulty filtering that noise to make sense out of
important sound messages. Refusal to use a hearing aid is not just stubbornness;
the aid might not be functionally useful.Hearing aids do not "correct"
hearing the way glasses correct vision. Hearing aids amplify all sound
including distracting background noise, and hard of hearing people often
have difficulty filtering that noise to make sense out of important sound
messages. Refusal to use a hearing aid is not just stubbornness; the aid
might not be functionally useful.
loss may affect a person's balance, as the inner ear acts in conjunction
with the eyes as the body's "gyroscope" keeping the body upright over a
center of balance.
a person's attention by tapping him or her on the arm or shoulder before
beginning to speak.
a person directly, try to stay in good light, and do not obscure your face
or mouth. Speak at a measured pace, do not exaggerate pronunciation or
lip movements, and don't shout. Shouting and exaggerated facial movement
changes the way words look and sound.Face a person directly, try to stay
in good light, and do not obscure your face or mouth. Speak at a measured
pace, do not exaggerate pronunciation or lip movements, and don't shout.
Shouting and exaggerated facial movement changes the way words look and
an interpreter is being used, talk to the person and not to the interpreter.
talk while eating or chewing gum.
down on background noise such as running water, TV or radio, which might
be distracting to a hard of hearing person.
body language. It helps convey your message.
a pencil and paper handy for use if necessary.
more information on deafness and hearing loss,
to use a TTY or the Telecommunications Relay System to communicate by phone
with Deaf or hard of hearing people. Relay system numbers are listed in
the white pages of your telephone directory with the telephone company
more information ...
are many other situations and disabilities that are not addressed here.
For more information on specific disabilities, job accommodations, support
groups, additional reading or reference resources, feel free to contact
the disAbility Resource Center, your local independent living center, or
a disability-specific organization in your community for answers to your
the meantime, just remember that people with disabilities are people first.
Disabilities are not handicaps - negative attitudes are.
to Suzanne Liquerman, Disabilities Network Eastern Connecticut, Franklin
CT, for her contribution of information and format which is the foundation
of this article. Reproduction is encouraged, with notice to the disAbility
Resource Center and acknowledgment to Suzanne Liquerman, the Disabilities
Network Eastern Connecticut, and the disAbility Resource Center.
1997 disability Resource Center