is the grass any bluer...

is the grass any bluer...
on the other side?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Etiquette for Communicating with Persons with Disabilities (provided by Dr. Nick Kouns)

by Kim Thomas
It is a privilege and an honor to present the list below, provided to me by Dr. Nick Kouns, a Lexington cardiologist whose dedication to improving lives through art and healthcare manifests itself every day in increasingly creative ways.
(See for my cover story this week on Side by Side, UK Healthcare and Kentucky Center for the Arts' initiatives for art + healthcare for the full story, more to come here on KimmyVille re: same :)

Etiquette for Communicating with Persons with Disabilities:
1. When talking with a person with a disability, speak directly to that person rather than through a companion or sign language interpreter.

2. When introduced to a person with a disability, it is appropriate to offer to shake hands. People with limited hand use or who wear an artificial limb can usually shake hands.

3. When meeting a person with a visual impairment, always identify yourself and others who maybe with you. When conversing in a group, remember to identify the person to whom you are speaking.

4. If you offer assistance, wait until the offer is accepted. Then listen to or ask for instructions.

5. Treat adults as adults. Address people who have disabilities by their first names only when extending the same familiarity to all others. (Never patronize people who use wheelchairs by patting them on the head or shoulder..)

6. Leaning or hanging on a person’s wheelchair is similar to leaning or hanging on a person and is generally consider inappropriate. The chair is part of the personal body space of the person who uses it.

7. Listen attentively when you’re talking with a person who has difficulty speaking. Be patient and wait for the person to finish, rather than correcting or speaking for the person. If necessary, ask short questions that require short answers, a nod, or shake of the head. Never pretend to understand if you are having difficulty doing so. Instead, repeat what you have understood and allow the person to respond. The response will guide your understanding.

8. When speaking with a person in a wheelchair or a person who uses crutches, place yourself at eye level in front of the person to facilitate the conversation.
9. To get the attention of a person who is Deaf or hard of hearing, tap the person on the shoulder or wave your hand. Look directly at the person and speak clearly, slowly, and expressively to determine if the person can read your lips. Not all people who are hard of hearing can lip-read. For those that do not lip-read, be sensitive to their needs by placing yourself so that you face the light source and keep hands, cigarettes, and food away from your mouth while speaking.

10. Relax. Don’t be embarrassed if you happen to use accepted, common expression such as “See you later.” or “Did you hear about that?” that seem to relate to a person’s disability.
pray for peace, y'all,


Mary said...

Isn't it amazing that we need to be instructed on respectful communication? These rules apply to anyone, not just folks with physical disabilities. A thoughtful set of instructions, and thanks to you and Dr. Nick for getting the word out.

Souravji said...

Hey Kimmy...I am really amazed! I have never seen someone giving importance to How to Communicate with the person with disabilities! You are doing really great job...making this world a better place! I am really honored to be in touch with you. I will be grateful to u if u give ur valuable post to my blog which focuses on helping people to live their best life...I am sure ur suggestions will help my readers be a better person :)