John D. Kemp, director
of Disability Services
for Powers, Pyles,
Sutter & Verville P.C.
Etiquette of Working With People With Disabilities
10 Do’s and Don’ts
1. Do shake hands with a person even if he or
she has limited hand use or artificial limbs.
2. Do ask a person if he or she needs assistance before actually helping. For example, a
person in a wheelchair may not need you to help
push their chair.
3. Do speak directly to the person with a
disability rather than to a companion or sign-language interpreter.
4. Do encourage other employees to learn
more about how to communicate best with a person with hearing disabilities, possibly offering sign-language courses.
5. Do give appropriate compliments, but avoid
excessive praise when a person with a disability
accomplishes a task.
1. Don’t pet a guide or companion dog while
2. Don’t be embarrassed to use common
expressions such as “I’ve got to run now,” “See you
later,” or “Have you heard about” even if the person
doesn’t run, see or hear well. People with disabilities use these phrases all the time.
3. Don’t shout or speak in the person’s ear.
Your facial expressions, gestures and body movements help in understanding.
4. Don’t assume that a person does not
have a disability just because you cannot see one.
Many people have hidden disabilities ranging from
psychological disabilities to chronic illnesses.
5. Don’t marvel at a person’s ability to perform simple life functions. —By Won Kim