Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities

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International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2019: Building a Better Future

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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.


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