TRRAIN Foundation of Retail General rules of etiquette for communicating with persons with specific disabilities. – trrain

General rules of etiquette for communicating with persons with specific disabilities.


While we live our daily lives, it seldom occurs to us that our etiquette or communication method is not feasible for people who have a certain set of impairments. It’s absolutely essential for the people in society to observe and evolve its communication methods for Persons with disabilities, in order to make them feel welcomed and comfortable in society. 

Presenting general rules of etiquette for communicating with persons with specific disabilities. 

Hearing Impairments 

  • – Let the person take the lead in establishing the communication mode, such as lip-reading, sign language, or writing notes.
  • – Face the person when you are speaking.
  • – Don’t chew gum, smoke, bite a pencil, or cover your mouth while talking – it makes speech difficult to understand!
  • – Rephrase sentences or substitute words rather than repeat yourself again and again.
  • – Speak clearly and at a normal voice level.
  • – Communicate in writing, if necessary.
  • – Move away from noisy areas or the source of noise -loud air conditioning, loud music, TV, and radio.
  • – Don’t stand with bright light (window, sun) behind you – glare makes it difficult to see your face.
  • – Get the hearing-impaired person’s attention and face in full view before talking.

Visual Impairments

  • – When greeting the person, identify yourself and introduce others who may be present.
  • – Be descriptive. You may have to help orient people with visual impairments and let them know what’s coming up. If they are walking, tell them if they have to step up or step down, let them know if the door is to their right or left, and warn them of possible hazards.
  • – You don’t have to speak loudly to people with visual impairments. Most of them can hear just fine.
  • – Offer to read written information for a person with a visual impairment, when appropriate.
  • – If you are asked to guide a person with a visual impairment, offer your arm instead of grabbing hers.
  • – Don’t leave the person without excusing yourself first.
  • – Don’t pet or distract a guide dog. The dog is responsible for its owner’s safety and is always working. It is not a pet.

Speech Impairments 

  • – Listen patiently. Don’t complete sentences for the person unless he looks to you for help.
  • – Don’t pretend you understand what a person with a speech disability says just to be polite.
  • – Ask the person to write down a word if you’re not sure what she is saying.
  • – Be prepared for various devices or techniques used to enhance or augment speech. Don’t be afraid to communicate with someone who uses an alphabet board or a computer with synthesized speech.

Mobility Impairments 

  • – Try sitting or crouching down to the approximate height of people in wheelchairs or scooters when you talk to them.
  • – Don’t lean on a person’s wheelchair unless you have their permission – it’s their personal space.
  • – Be aware of what is accessible and not accessible to people in wheelchairs.
  • – Give a push only when asked.

Cognitive Disability   

  • – Use very clear, specific language.
  • – Be patient. Allow the person time to tell or show you what he or she wants.
  • – Condense lengthy directions into steps.
  • – Use short, concise instructions.
  • – Present verbal information at a relatively slow pace, with appropriate pauses for processing Time and with repetition if necessary.
  • – Provide cues to help with transitions (e.g. “In five minutes we’ll be going to lunch.”)
  • – Reinforce information with pictures or other Visual images.
  • – Use modeling, rehearsing, and role-playing.
  • – Use concrete rather than abstract language.
  • – Limit the use of sarcasm or subtle humor.
  • – If you are not sure what to do or say, just ask the person what he/she needs.

Wheelchair Etiquette 

  • – Always ask the person using the wheelchair if he or she would like assistance BEFORE you help. It may not be needed or wanted.
  • – Don’t hang or lean on a person’s wheelchair because it is part of that person’s personal body space.
  • – Speak directly to the person in the wheelchair, not to someone nearby as if the person in the wheelchair did not exist.
  • – If the conversation lasts more than a few minutes, consider sitting down or kneeling to get yourself on the same level.
  • – Don’t demand or patronize the person by patting them on the head.
  • – Give clear directions, including distance, weather conditions and physical obstacles that may hinder the person’s travel.
  • – Don’t classify persons who use wheelchairs as sick. Wheelchairs are used for a variety of noncontagious disabilities.
  • – When a person using a wheelchair “transfers” out of the wheelchair to a chair, toilet, car or bed, do not move the wheelchair out of reaching distance.
  • – Be aware of the person’s capabilities. Some users can walk with aid and use wheelchairs to save energy and move quickly.
  • – It is okay to use terms like “running along” when speaking to a person who uses a wheelchair. The person is likely to express things the same way.
  • – Don’t discourage children from asking questions about the wheelchair.
  • – Don’t assume that using a wheelchair is in itself a tragedy. It is a means of freedom that allows the person to move about independently.

With just certain changes in our behavior, we can create a society that is more welcoming towards people with disability and empower them to have an equal place in society.

Source : Disability Etiquette Guide