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Tips for treatment for those with disabilities

By Cynthia Grosso

According to the Public Agenda Survey, “Aggravating Circumstances: A status report on Rudeness in America,” not only do eight in ten Americans say a lack of respect and courtesy is a serious problem, but six in ten say things have become worse in recent years. 

Americans, however, may be making some strides in civility, as 51% surveyed said Americans are more polite to people with physical disabilities than they used to be.

In 1992, congress passed the American with Disabilities Act, which required businesses to create an environment whereby disabled people can become a constructive part of the work force. Although there are laws to abide by, and though the average American may be trying to be more polite, there is still a need to understand the proper procedures for dealing with people with physical disabilities. 

An obvious tip is not to stare or make comments.  Here are some other guildelines.

- Do not ignore or leave the person who is disabled out of the discussion.

- If the person has paralysis and is in a wheelchair, try to get on his height level when speaking to them.

- If you know the person you are being introduced to has an artificial right hand, be prepared to shake the artificial hand.  If he extends the left, then so would you…letting him lead.

- If you do not realize they have an artificial hand and you extend with your right hand, they will extend the artificial hand or use their left to make contact. Express no surprise and make no comment.

- If you are speaking to a person who is deaf, make sure you look at him and speak slowly, but not more loudly.

- If you are speaking with a person who is deaf through an interpreter, make sure you look at the person when speaking and not the interpreter.

-  If you are speaking with someone who is blind, announce yourself upon arrival and departure.

- When assisting a person who is blind, do not grab their arm…let that person take yours.

- When assisting a person who is blind into a business meeting, escort him to his chair and place his hand on the back of the chair and tell him what you are doing.

- At a business lunch, it is ok to read the person who is blind the menu.

- Give help or directions from the perspective of the person who is blind.

The basic rule is to treat someone with a disability like you would want to be treated. If you are not sure what to do in a certain situation, it is ok to ask…”What can I do to assist you?”

Remember that using the word handicapped, is not considered polite. Instead, refer to that person as a person with physical disabilities.

Source: Article Published in the Business Review Section of the Post and Courier

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