The word "Etiquette", is defined as a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group. Manners is a term usually preceded by the word good or bad to indicate whether or not a behavior is socially acceptable.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, other laws, and the efforts of many disability organizations have made strides in improving accessibility in buildings, increasing access to education, opening employment opportunities and developing realistic portrayals of persons with disabilities in television programming and motion pictures.
Where progress is still needed is in communication and interaction with people with disabilities. Individuals are sometimes concerned that they will say the wrong thing, so they say nothing at all - thus further segregating people with disabilities.
Listed here are some suggestions on how to relate to and communicate with and about people with disabilities.
Actions - Etiquette considered appropriate when interacting with people with disabilities is based primarily on respect and courtesy.
Words - Positive language empowers - Some circles advocate that when writing or speaking about people with disabilities, it is important to put the person first. Group designations such as "the blind," "the retarded" or "the disabled" are inappropriate because they do not reflect the individuality, equality or dignity of people with disabilities. Further, words like "normal person" imply that the person with a disability isn't normal, whereas "person without a disability" is descriptive but not negative. We must keep in mind that the people first disability rights movement and its thinking is almost unknown outside the movement itself, and many people with disabilities themselves, say that "People First Language" is actually a waste of time, unable to prevail in the goal it sets out to do by its very nature, and that people first language actually sets us back in the goal of integration and equality for people with disabilities - People First Language: An Oppositional Viewpoint.
|Positive Speech Examples Vs. Negative Speech|
|Affirmative Phrases||Negative Phrases|
|person with an intellectual, cognitive, developmental disability||retarded; mentally defective|
|person who is blind, person who is visually impaired||the blind|
|person with a disability||the disabled; handicapped|
|person who is deaf||the deaf; deaf and dumb|
|person who is hard of hearing||suffers a hearing loss|
|person who has multiple sclerosis||afflicted by MS|
|person with cerebral palsy||CP victim|
|person with epilepsy, person with
|person who uses a wheelchair||confined or restricted to a wheelchair|
|person who has muscular dystrophy||stricken by MD|
|person with a physical disability, physically disabled||crippled; lame; deformed|
|unable to speak, uses synthetic speech||dumb; mute|
|person with psychiatric disability||crazy; nuts|
|person who is successful, productive||has overcome his/her disability|
*Some information from the Office of Disability Employment Policy and The U.S. Department of Labor
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