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It is important to maintain decorum and courtesy when interacting with people with disabilities. Below are a few important guidelines to keep in mind whether the person with a disability is a colleague, constituent or visitor.


  • Remember that people with disabilities are aware of what they can and cannot do. Leave this determination to them.

  • Always offer assistance before assisting. When assisting, ask for instruction and clarify what kind of assistance the person wants and needs.

  • Respect all assistive devices (i.e. canes, wheelchairs, crutches, communication boards, service dogs, etc.) as personal property. Unless given specific and explicit permission, do not move or touch them.

  • Refrain from commenting on the userʹs ability to operate or use the assistive device.

  • Always direct your communication to the individual with a disability (for example a deaf individual using a translator.) If a person is accompanied, do not direct your comments to the companion.

  • Use a typical speaking tone and style. If a louder voice is necessary, the person will ask you to do so.

  • Address people with disabilities by their first names only when extending the same familiarity to all others.

  • Remember that people with disabilities are interested in the same topics of conversation as people who do not have disabilities.

When Providing Accommodations (for example, setting up meetings):

  • Make it easy to ask for and obtain accommodations – clearly indicate verbally and in writing the availability of appropriate accommodations and modifications.

  • Begin by opening a dialogue with the individual to find out what needs (if any) exist.

  • Often people may ask for accommodations without using the word “accommodation.”

  • Don’t automatically steer people with disabilities to disability‐only services.

  • Remember people with disabilities are all very different and that accommodations will vary depending on the specific circumstances.

  • Openness and creativity are important when working with a person with a disability in determining appropriate and effective accommodations.

  • Discussions about accommodations should remain private.

  • Provide many opportunities for feedback from the person with a disability.

For more information regarding proper etiquette in such areas as interviewing techniques and scheduling meetings please visit:

Accessibility Guides accessible by navigating to http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd. Under the headline “Human Development,” click on “Disability and Health” and from there on the right side of the page under Topic Contents click on “Accessibility Guidelines”