Tips for Interacting with Students with a Disability
1. Establish open communication about abilities and limitations.
2. Consult with others when you need additional information on a specific condition.
3. Apply the same principles, considerations and respect with everyone.
4. Be prepared to offer information in alternate formats.
5. Speak directly to the individual with a disability, not his or her caregiver, paraeducator, or interpreter.
6. Respect a student’s assistive device (cane, wheelchair, etc.). Unless given permission, do not move or play with it.
7. Be considerate of the extra time it may require when working with a student with a disability.
8. Offer alternative choices whenever appropriate– do not over adapt.
9. Avoid patronizing by giving praise or undo attention for simple everyday tasks.
10. Always use person-first terminology
11. Don’t portray a disability as a negative thing.
12. Never assume – disabilities may be hidden.
13. Individuals with disabilities need physical activity, too! Just because a student has a disability it doesn’t mean they can’t be healthy.
Terms like “handicapped” and “wheelchair bound” are outdated and even offensive. Be sure to always put the person first. For example, say “an individual with a spinal cord injury” or “an individual who uses a wheelchair” versus “wheelchair bound” or “paraplegic.” The same applies for all disabilities. Other examples include a student with a visual impairment, a student with autism or a student who has Spina Bifida.