December 3 is International Day of Persons with Disabilities, a global awareness day that celebrates the achievements of people with disabilities and those who are making the world a more accessible place.
Every year, the United Nations declares a theme. This year, the theme is Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda.
This theme looks to the future, asking us to envision a more inclusive world – one in which everyone can participate in the process of building a better future. It is a reminder that we all have a part to play in building a more collaborative world.
One starting place is APD’s etiquette guide Manners that Matter, which provides tips for interacting with people with disabilities. Here are just a few of these recommendations:
- Use person-first language, which emphasizes the person rather than the disability (e.g., “person with a disability” instead of “disabled person”)
- If you offer assistance, wait until the person accepts; listen to or ask for instructions.
- Speak directly to the person, not to their companion. Do not stare.
- Make eye contact when speaking with a person who is in their wheelchair or scooter.
- To get the attention of a person who is deaf, tap them on the shoulder or wave your hand.
- When greeting a person who is blind or visually impaired, wait for them to extend their hand first. You could say, “May I shake your hand?” as a verbal cue. Always identify yourself and others who may be with you.
- Listen attentively when a person’s speech is slow or different. Be patient and wait for them to finish, rather than speaking for or correcting them. If necessary, ask questions that require short answers or perhaps a nod or shake of the head. Never pretend to understand; instead, repeat what you have understood and allow the person to respond.
Check out the full guide here for more tips and resources.