- 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. Not 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 mustaches well-trimmed. Shouting won't help. Written notes may.
- When talking with a person in a wheel chair for more than a few minutes, use a chair, whenever possible, in order to place you 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.
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.
Courtesies for Effective Communication
Faculty and Staff need to know whether or not the room is accessible and should be prepared to answer accessibility-related questions.
Communicating with a person using Mobility Aids
Communicating with a person with Vision Impairments
Communicating with a person with Speech Impairments
Communicating with a person who is Deaf or Hearing Impaired
Communicating with a Person Using Mobility Aids
Communicating with a Person With Vision Impairments
- When greeting a person with vision impairment always identify yourself and introduce anyone else who might be present.
- If the person does not extend their hand to shake hands, verbally extend a welcome.
- EXAMPLE: Welcome to the Gainesville State College, Disability Services Office.
- When offering seating, place the person's hand on the back or arm of the seat. A verbal cue is helpful as well.
- Let the person know if you move or need to end the conversation.
- Allow people who use crutches, canes or wheelchairs to keep them within reach.
Communicating With a Person With Speech Impairments
- Give your whole attention with interest when talking to a person who has speech impairment.
- Ask short questions that require short answers or a nod of the head.
- Do not pretend to understand if you do not. Try rephrasing what you wish to communicate, or ask the person to repeat what you do not understand.
- Do not raise your voice. Most speech impaired persons can hear and understand.
Communicating with a Person Who is Deaf or Hearing Impaired
- If you need to attract the attention of a person who is deaf or hearing impaired, touch him or her lightly on the shoulder.
- If the hearing impaired person lip-reads, look directly at him or her. Speak clearly at a normal pace. Do not exaggerate your lip movements or shout. Speak expressively because the person will rely on your facial expressions, gestures and eye contact. (Note: It is estimated that only four out of ten spoken words are visible on the lips.)
- Place yourself facing the light source and keep your hands, cigarettes and food away from your mouth when speaking.
- Shouting does not help and can be detrimental. Only raise your voice when requested. Brief, concise written notes may be helpful.
- In the United States most deaf people use American Sign Language (ASL.) ASL is not a universal language. ASL is a language with its own syntax and grammatical structure. When scheduling an interpreter for a non-English speaking person, be certain to retain an interpreter that speaks and interprets in the language of the person.
- If an interpreter is present, it is commonplace for the interpreter to be seated beside the interviewer, across from the hearing impaired person.
- Interpreters facilitate communication. They should not be consulted or regarded as a reference for the interview.