Basic disability etiquette involves treating people with disabilities with respect. For example, speak to the person directly, not to the person accompanying them. Do not make assumptions about what they can or cannot do. The impact of a specific disability can vary widely from person to person, so offer assistance only if it appears to be needed. Acknowledge and respect the individual’s ability to make decisions and judgments on their own behalf. Always use “people first” language. For example, use the term “people with disabilities.” Do not use terms such as “the disabled” or “the handicapped.” Avoid referring to people by their disability. For example, do not say, “She is an epileptic.” Instead, say, “She has epilepsy.” Do not say “wheelchair-bound” or “confined to a wheelchair.” Most wheelchair users perceive their wheelchair as liberating, not confining. Do say, “She uses a wheelchair.” Do not use negative, demeaning, and outdated terms such as “cripple,” “deaf and dumb,” or “retarded.” Be aware that many people with disabilities do not wish to be referred to euphemistically. So, avoid using terms such as “physically challenged,” or “differently abled.” Also, avoid referring to an individual with a disability as someone who is “suffering from cerebral palsy or Parkinson’s.”
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