Communicating With People

by Kerri Silverthorn   |   Wed, Jan 13th, 2021

Communicating with People with Disabilities

Communicating with People with Disabilities

According to the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, “People with disabilities are people first. They are not defined by their condition or diseases.”

The DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties goes on to note, “Lack of awareness about disabilities can lead to unintended stereotypes and discrimination. The way we view and communicate with and about people with disabilities shapes our relationships. The way we refer to people with disabilities in our communication is important. For example, a person is not an “epileptic” but rather a “person who has epilepsy.” Putting the person first in our communications is not “political correctness,” it is showing respect for the dignity of the individual.”

Approach people with disabilities as you would anyone else and speak directly and clearly. Treat adults as adults and refrain from using patronizing or condescending language.


  • Do not make decisions or assume a person’s needs
  • Do not assume a person needs help– always ask first
  • Speak directly to the person, not to their interpreter or companion
  • Be considerate of a person’s service animal- do not pet or play with working animals
  • A person’s equipment (i.e., wheelchair) is a part of their personal space
  • If you are unsure how to interact with a person with a disability, simply and politely ask

For more information on communicating with people with disabilities visit the following sites:

This blog is brought to you by the Tuscarawas County Board of Developmental Disabilities and Please click here to read all of our content!

Kerri Silverthorn Wed, Jan 13th, 2021