Disability Etiquette for Students with Disabilities

After only 30 seconds of meeting someone, a long-lasting impression is created. Practicing appropriate etiquette and behavior will reinforce your value in the workplace.

Professional Guidelines

DO:

  • Maintain eye contact, speak clearly, and shake hands or verbally greet the employer.
  • Focus on abilities: emphasize what you can do, rather than what you cannot do.
  • Educate others about what you are able to do and what accommodations are the most effective.
  • Self-advocate for your needs.
  • Perform at your highest level. Employers should expect the same level of performance from you as another employee.
  • Realize that the more comfortable you are discussing your disability, the more comfortable your employer and coworkers will be.

DO NOT:

  • Assume that an employer knows what you need to best perform your duties.

Disclosing Your Disability

DO:

  • Introduce yourself, your disability and how you will perform the job. Explain this to the employer, as they may have no experience supervising or interviewing people with disabilities.
  • Give the employer permission to ask questions about your disability as it relates to the job (Your medical history is confidential under the HIPAA Privacy Rule).

Disability-Specific Considerations

SPEECH

DO:

  • Speak as clearly as possible
  • Practice clear articulation.
  • Take your time speaking.
  • Give the other person permission to ask you to repeat what you’ve said.
  • Repeat words until your employer understands.
  • Use written words or communication device if necessary.
  • Work in a quiet environment.

WHEELCHAIR AND MOBILITY DEVICE USERS

DO:

  • Make sure your device is clean.
  • Call an employment site in advance to make sure the environment is accessible. If it is not accessible, state the accommodations that may be needed.

DO NOT:

  • Carry multiple bags or coats on your device.
  • Place stickers on your device. If you must use tape, get black duct tape.

HEARING/VISION IMPAIRMENT

DO:

  • Communicate with employers in advance about the accommodations you need in the workplace .
  • Inform employers if you need them to speak louder or quieter.

Workplace Etiquette

DO:

  • Dress appropriately.
  • Keep personal conversations to a minimum.
  • Remain punctual. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive to work and get settled.
  • Be mindful of break length.
  • Keep your work area tidy.
  • Be careful with spelling, grammar, content, and humor in an email.
  • Respect others’ privacy and ownership (knock before entering another’s office, not barging in another’s cubicle, etc.)
  • Speak quietly in a work setting to avoid distracting others.
  • Use polite and courteous language; absolutely no profanity

DO NOT:

  • Gossip in the work place. Ask yourself, “Would I mind if what I am saying is posted on a billboard?” If not, do not say it at work!
  • Use cell phone or other electronics, unless it is work-related.
  • Eat food with strong odors at your desk.
  • Disability etiquette information gathered from https://www.wright.edu/diversity-and-inclusion/disability-services/disability-etiquette-in-the-workplace

More Resources for Disability Etiquette

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