Rules of Etiquette

1. Remember that a student with a disability is like anyone else, except for the special limitations of the disability. A student with a disability has more similarities with other students than differences.

2. Be yourself when you meet a student with a disability and talk about the same things you would talk about with any one else. Speak directly to the person, not to someone accompanying him or her. Do not try to avoid using--or become embarrassed if you do use--commonly accepted expressions, such as “see you later” or “I’ve got to run,” that seem to relate to the person’s disability. People with disabilities use them, too!

3.  Do not rely on preconceived ideas or stereotypes about what the student can or cannot do. Let the student explain his or her disability and the accommodations needed. If the student does not take the initiative, then ask; but make sure to be respectful and sensitive. Only ask about needs that are relevant to the successful completion of the course work. Do not ask questions you would not want to answer yourself.

4. Treat your adult students with disabilities in a manner befitting adults. Use the person's first name only if extending this familiarity to all others present. Do not pat people on the head who use wheel chairs. This feels patronizing and is age-inappropriate for college age students. Only pat people on the shoulder or arm who use wheel chairs, and only if you do this as your interaction style with all people.

5. Be consistent in your standard of acceptable behavior. Do not accept inappropriate behavior from a student with a disability just because he or she has a disability. Socially inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated on the job later, so do not "let it slide" now.

6. Always ask if a student with a disability needs help before assisting him or her; do not just assume he or she does, and provide it. You may offer assistance, but always wait for it to be accepted before acting. Respect his or her choice if your help is declined. It is best to let the student know that he or she may ask for and receive help at any time, then let the student control how much help he or she wants.

7. Do not be overprotective/over-solicitous or offer pity/charity. Do not go overboard with praise for accomplishments, either. These types of interactions can be patronizing and embarrassing for anyone receiving them.

8. Let the student set his or her own pace in walking, speaking, and at times, learning. Teaching a student who learns differently can be frustrating, but imagine how frustrated the student must be!

9. Do not move an individual's wheelchair or crutches unless he or she requests it. These types of equipment are his or her access to mobility, so he or she may want them within reach.

1O. Do not assume that a person with a disability has additional limitations. (For example, do not raise your voice when speaking to a person with a visual disability. He or she may listen more carefully than most people to compensate for the lost vision.)

11. Do not overprotect people with disabilities, but allow them to take risks. Taking risks is one of the best ways to learn about personal potential and to build self esteem. Be sure safety precautions have been taken, but do not protect a student with a disability more than you would any other student.

12. Our entire society is in the process of learning about disabilities, so be a role model for non-disabled students by demonstrating appropriate behavior toward students with disabilities. One of the most difficult aspects of living with a disability is the negative attitude of others. Help be a part of the change.

13In public, if a child asks about a person with a disability he or she can see, answer the question directly and promptly. Do not act as if having a disability is something to be ashamed of.

14Emphasize the uniqueness and worth of all people, rather than the differences between them.

15. When planning events involving people with disabilities, consider their needs ahead of time. Check into the accessibility of the building, and the types of activities being offered. If an insurmountable barrier exists, let the participants with disabilities know well ahead of time.