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Etiquette for Use with People Who Have Mobility Impairments

When you are with a person who has a mobility impairment:

  • Look at and talk directly to everyone with whom we converse.
     
  • Be at eye level with everyone with whom we speak, if possible.
     
  • Ask how we can best help when assisting a wheelchair user to go up or down a curb.
     
  • Move crutches, walkers, canes, or wheelchairs only with the permission of the user. Return the devices as soon as possible.
     
  • Ask if and how we can help in buffet lines.
     
  • Respect everyone's individual space. Do not lean on someone's wheelchair.
     
  • Allow children to ask questions and allow the person being questioned to answer.
     
  • Ask "May I help?" when wanting to be helpful. And if given permission to do so, ask "How may I help?" Unsolicited assistance is rude and intrusive.
     
  • People who use wheelchairs are "wheelchair users", not "confined to a wheelchair".
     
  • Grasp the push handles tightly so that the chair does not go too fast when helping to guide a wheelchair user down an incline,
     
  • When assisting a wheelchair user go up or down more than one step tilt the wheelchair back at all times while descending or ascending the stairs.
     
  • Learn the location of wheelchair-accessible ramps, rest rooms, elevators, doors, water fountains, and telephones.
     
  • Relax and smile! Very few people (even those with mobility impairments) bite! (That's a joke.) Everyone responds to a smile and a warm "hello".

For more information contact access @ uua.org.

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Last updated on Wednesday, April 20, 2011.

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