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Etiquette for Use with People Who Have an Invisible Disability

When you are with a person who has an invisible disability:

  • Don't refuse to believe what you cannot see by doubting a person's truthfulness.
     
  • People do not like to always have to identify themselves as a person with a disability. When planning an event, add a note about accessibility needs with a direct number to a real person. That opens the door for the person to reach out and not feel like they are imposing.
     
  • The best tactic is to simply talk to a person and ask what they can and cannot do.
     
  • Always assume there is a person with a hidden disability in a group. So always say "Rise if you are willing and able," and always plan quick stretch breaks every 30-45 minutes.
     
  • If a person says they cannot do something, don't try to coax or cajole or convince them to try anyway.
     
  • Invite partial participation, and ask what you can do to make participation possible.
     
  • A hearing impairment is a hidden disability; always assume there is a person in your group with hearing loss so face your audience.
     
  • Don't judge another person's pain or limitations; accept as true what the person tells you.

For more information contact access @ uua.org.

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Last updated on Wednesday, April 20, 2011.

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