As seen on The News On Six- Disabled Etiquette

Thursday, July 6th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Wheelchair Etiquette

* Never grab or touch a wheelchair without asking first. Their chair is considered part of themselves.

* The wheelchair is an extension of their body. Never lean on the person's chair or use it as a footrest.

* Don't assume that being in a wheelchair is a tragedy. It may mean freedom to move about.

* If you're talking to someone in a wheelchair, it is considered a common courtesy to place yourself at his or her eye level.

* Offer help only if it appears there is a need.

* If you feel the need to ask personal questions, remember what you would find to be too personal, and don't ask.

* Never ask an able-bodied person who is with someone in a wheelchair, "What do they want?". Address the handicapped person directly.

* Telling someone who is in a wheelchair, "It's a pity you're handicapped because". It's not a compliment.

* Being disabled is an adjective, not a noun.

* Don't discourage children from asking questions. Like anything "different", explanation leads to acceptance.

* Recognize people in wheelchairs are people first. Help eliminate both physical and attitudinal barriers which prevent them from fully participating in all aspects of society.

Communicating with and About People with Disabilities

* Use positive language. It is empowering to the disabled person.

* When writing or speaking to a disabled person, it is important to put that person first

* Do not group blind, deaf or disabled persons. Each disability is unique.

* Use affirmative phrases such as, "person who uses a wheelchair" or "Person with a disability".

* Avoid negative phrases like, "retarded", "spaz", "confined to a chair" or "crippled".

Source: Kathy Coorpender, Disability Sensitivity Awareness Coordinator, Tulsa YWCA