Tips for Communicating with People with Disabilities

Feeling like you don’t know what to say and/or how to act? Remember we’re all human. No one is judging your every move so first and foremost…

  • RELAX! You are communicating with a person, not a “disability”
  • Mistakes are OKAY! We all make them
  • ASSUMING… We all know that old saying… Remember you don’t know what another person is and/or isn’t capable of
  • Speak directly to the person. If a companion is present, don’t speak to the person through the companion
  • Treat adults as adults. Address people with disabilities by their first names only when extending the same familiarity to everyone else present
  • Never patronize someone by patting him/her on the head or shoulders.
  • Never pet, talk to, feed, or otherwise distract a service animal unless the owner has give you permission
  • Be proactive. If you see a visitor with a visible disability enter the building (wheelchair, walking cane, service animal, hearing aid, etc..) and you have the ability to leave your post, greet them and let them know about all the applicable accessible elements throughout the building and exhumations. If it’s unclear whether the person may have a disability remember that detecting invisible disabilities can be tricky.
  • If you offer assistance and the person declines, respect his/her preference. If your offer is accepted, ask how you can help, then follow the instructions
  • Expect diversity or preferences and opinions
  • Be respectful. Apply the platinum rule (Treat people the way they want to be treated)

Remember, there is no “Rule” or “Tip” that can replace EXPERIENCE! It is a very simple fact that the more you are around different experiences the more comfortable you will be. We always welcome volunteers here in the studio and in the classroom upon completion & approval of our volunteer application.

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