EASI, c/o American Association for Higher Education One Dupont Circle, Suite 360 Washington, D.C. 20036-1110 Phone: (310) 640-3193 (Pacific Time) E-Mail: EASI@EDUCOM.BITNET or internet: EASI@EDUCOM.EDU
SERVICE AND CONSIDERATION
AN EASI GUIDE TO DISABILITY ETIQUETTE FOR COMPUTING SERVICE PROVIDERS
EASI: Equal Access to Software and Information
Your attitude can make a big difference. One of the most difficult barriers people with disabilities face is negative attitudes and perceptions of other people. Sometimes those attitudes are deep-rooted prejudices, based in ignorance and fear. Sometimes they are just unconscious misconceptions that result in impolite or thoughtless acts by otherwise well-meaning people. In either case, they form an obstacle to acceptance and full participation in society for people with disabilities.
This pamphlet is not a list of strict rules and regulations. It's an attempt to foster understanding, clear up misperceptions and help you relate as a service provider, and as a person, to people with disabilities.
Disability is often perceived as a yes-or-no proposition. You either are disabled or you're not. The truth is that disabilitiy is a continuum. At one end are perfect people --not many of those around-- and at the other end are people with severe impairments. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle. But, we're all people and we all want to be treated with respect.
With that in mind, here are some general tips on relating to people who may have special needs. Inside this pamphlet, you'll find more specific tips for working with somebody who has a specific disability.
DON'T ASSUME a person with a disability needs your help. Ask be fore doing.
MAKE EYE contact and talk directly to the person, not through the person's companion.
AVOID ACTIONS and words that suggest the person should be treated differently. It's OK to invite a person in a wheelchair to go for a walk or to ask a blind person if he sees what you mean.
TREAT PEOPLE with disabilities with the same respect and conside ration that you have for everyone else.
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SOME HELPFUL HINTS
BE DESCRIPTIVE. You may have to help orient people with visual impairments, and let them know what's coming up. If they are walking tell them if they have to step up or step down, let them know if the door is to their right or left, and warn them of possible hazards.
YOU DON'T have to talk loudly to people with visual impairments. Most of them hear just fine.
OFFER TO READ written information for a person with a visual impairment when appropriate.
IF YOU are asked to guid a person with a visual impairment, offer him your arm, instead of grabbing his.
LISTEN PATIENTLY. Don't complete sentences for the person unles s he looks to you for help.
DON'T PRETEND you understand what the person with a speech disability says just to be polite.
ASK THE PERSON to write a word if you're not sure of what he is saying.
FACE PEOPLE with hearing impairments when you talk to them so t hey can see your lips.
SLOW the rate at which you speak when talking to a person with a hearing impairment.
INCREASE THE LEVEL of your voice.
COMMUNICATE BY WRITING if necessary.
TRY SITTING or crouching down to the approximate height of peopl e in wheelchairs or scooters when you talk to them.
DON'T LEAN on a person's wheelchair unless you have his permissi on --it's his personal space.
BE AWARE of what is accessible and not accessible to people in wheelchairs.
GIVE A PUSH only when asked.
DON'T ASSUME the person is not listening just because you are ge tting no verbal or visual feedback. Ask him if he understands or agrees.
DON'T ASSUME you have to explain everything to people with learn ing disabilities. They do not necessarily have a problem with general comprehension.
OFFER TO READ written material, if necessary.
NOTE ON GUIDE DOGS
Many people with visual or mobility impairments use guide dogs t o help them compensate for their disabilities. These dogs are workers, not pets, and they have jobs to do. Always ask permission before you interact with someone's dog. Do not pet the dog or divert its attention from its work.
INFORMATION: Basic information should be made available in large print and Braille, and should be put on the campus network. The information needs to include location of labs, libraries, administrative offices, and other facilities that are available to all students. Information on restrictions of use, printing policies, usage fees, hardware and software availability, lab assistant and tutor availability and general policies, should also be available in alternate formats.
ORIENTATION: A guided tour of all facilities is a good way to familiarize people with disabilities to the campus layout. The tour should include location of specific buildings, libraries, administrative offices and other student-use areas. The orientation should identify potential obstacles and emergency exits.
ASSISTANCE: Lab and teaching assistants should be prepared to help a person with a disability in a number of different ways, according to the type and severity of the disability. Typical tasks will include: changing the height of a workstation, turning equipment on and off, positioning equipment, setting contrast and brightness controls, inserting disks into disk drives, setting up a printer, retrieving a print-out, reading or writing down information, and many other small tasks that can be a big help to a person with a disability.
DR. NORMAN COOMBS, Chair Professor of History Rochester Institute of Technology Phone: (716) 475-2462 Fax: (716) 475-7120 NRCGSH@RITVAX.BITNET NRCGSH@RITVAX.ISC.RIT.EDU
CARMELA CASTORINA, Editor, Assistant to the Chair Phone/Fax: (310) 640-3193 CSMICLC@MVS.OAC.UCLA.EDU
DR. SHERYL BURGSTAHLER, Vice chair Information Systems, Asst. Director. University of Washington Phone: (206) 543-0622 Fax: (206) 685-4054 Sherylb@cac.washington.edu