Disability communication has many aspects. e.g.how do we talk with a person with disability, how do we talk about disability, how do we convey our message about disability and PWD in media is of prime importance. The accurate presentation of message will create the right atmosphere for inclusive dialogue.
- When talking to a person with a disability, look at and speak directly to that person, rather than through a companion who may be along.
- Relax. Don't be embarrassed if you happen to use accepted common expressions such as "See you later" or "Got to be running along" that seem to relate to the person's disability.
- To get the attention of a person with a hearing impairment, tap the person on the shoulder or wave your hand. Look directly at the person and speak clearly, naturally and slowly to establish if the person can read lips. No all persons with hearing impairments can lip-read. Those who can will rely on facial expression and other body language to help in understanding. Show consideration by placing yourself facing the light source and keeping your hands, cigarettes and food away from your mouth when speaking. Keep moustacheswell trimmed. Shouting won't help. Written notes may.
- When talking with a person in a wheelchair for more than a few minutes, use a chair, whenever possible, in order to place yourself at the person's eye level to facilitate conversation.
- When greeting a person with a severe loss of vision, always identify yourself and others who may be with you.
- When conversing in a group, give a vocal cue by announcing the name of the person to whom you are speaking. Speak in a normal tone of voice, indicate in advance when you will be moving from one place to another and let it be known when the conversation is at an end.
- Listen attentively when you're talking to a person who has speech impairment. Keep your manner encouraging rather than correcting. Exercise patience rather than attempting to speak for a person with speech difficulty. When necessary, ask short questions that require short answers or a nod or a shake of the head. Never pretend to understand if you are having difficulty doing so. Repeat what you understand, or incorporate the interviewee's statements into each of the following questions. The person's reactions will clue you in and guide you to understanding.
- If you have difficulty communicating, be willing to repeat or rephrase a question. Open-ended questions are more appropriate than closed-ended questions.
EXAMPLE: Closed-Ended Question: "You were a tax accountant in XYZ Company in the corporate planning department for seven years. What did you do there?" Open-Ended Question: "Tell me about your recent position as a tax accountant."
- Do not shout at a hearing impaired person. Shouting distorts sounds accepted through hearing aids and inhibits lip reading. Do not shout at a person who is blind or visually impaired -- he or she can hear you!
- To facilitate conversation, be prepared to offer a visual cue to a hearing impaired person or an audible cue to a vision impaired person, especially when more than one person is speaking.
How to Talk about Disability
Language can be a positive force or it can build negative stereotypes. Here is a list of words and phrases that are to be avoided when referring to disabled persons:
Instead use: non-disabled
autistic, dyslexic, epileptic, etc
Instead use: person with autism, dyslexia, epilepsy, etc
Instead use: orthopedically disabled
deaf and dumb
Instead use: deaf and speech-impaired, hearing and speech impaired
in a wheelchair, confined to a wheelchair, wheelchair-bound
Instead use: wheelchair user, uses a wheelchair
Instead use: person with disabilities, disabled person
Instead use: person affected by/with leprosy (NB: someone who shows the signs of leprosy but no longer has the disease is leprosy cured)
mentally handicapped, backward, retarded, slow
Instead use: person/people with learning difficulties
the blind, the deaf
Instead use: blind people, deaf people
victim of, crippled by, suffering from, afflicted by
Instead use: person who has, person with;
Instead use: visually impaired, person with low vision or blind (according to extent of disability)