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Page history last edited by Jay T. Dolmage 8 years, 8 months ago


  • If the student is coming to your office, ensure the office is arranged in such a way that a person with a mobility device has access. Remove obstacles and arrange furniture to give clear passage to where you will sit and conduct the meeting.


  • Consider an assistive device as an extension of the person’s personal space; don’t hang or lean on a wheelchair, or other devices, never try and take over the controls.


  • If a conversation is expected to last longer than a few moments and your office is not able to accommodate a chair or scooter easily, suggest an area nearby that is comfortable for all parties to be seated.


  • Never assume that an individual can or should transfer from one assistive device into another, or into a chair.


  • Pay attention to the meeting rooms and spaces around your office, and meet with all students in the room that is most accessible, as a matter of principle.


  • When giving directions to your office or meeting space, assume that everyone needs to use accessible entrances, elevators, and so on.



  • Speak normally, clearly and directly to the person in front of you.


  • Some people may take a little longer to understand and respond, so exercise patience.


  • Listen carefully and work with the person to provide information in a way that will best suit their needs.


  • Remember that not all students are comfortable with direct eye contact.


  • If you haven’t understood, do not pretend that you have; ask the person to repeat the information.


  • Ask truly open-ended questions when possible and exercise a very high "tolerance for error" – students need to be given opportunities to think for themselves, think through questions with you, and to get things wrong.


  • If students are having trouble communicating, avoid making remarks such as: “Slow down,” “Take a breath,” or “Relax.” This will not be helpful and may be interpreted as demeaning. Avoid finishing the person’s sentences, or guessing what is being said. This can increase their feelings of self-consciousness.


  • When you approach a person with a visual impairment make sure you identify yourself and speak directly to them. Do not assume that the person cannot see you.


  • If you are leaving a room or the presence of someone with a visual disability, be sure to let them know that you are leaving and whether or not you will be returning.



  • Ask permission before touching anyone, unless it is an emergency.


  • If you are not sure what to do, ask, "Can I help?"


  • Allow students to bring their service animal with them into your office or classroom; Avoid talking to or petting a service animal; this distracts the animal from its tasks; Do not feed or offer treats to the animal; Avoid deliberately startling the animal; Remember, not all service animals wear special collars or harnesses; if you’re not sure and you need to verify, it’s okay to ask the owner if it is indeed a service animal.


  • If someone needs mobility assistance, offer your arm to guide the person – allow them the time to tell you whether they do or do not want help. Walk at a normal pace if you are guiding someone. Be precise and clear when giving directions or verbal information – for example, if you are guiding someone with a visual disability and you are approaching a door or an obstacle, say so. Identify landmarks or other details to orient the person to their environment.



  • If you are communicating through an interpreter, look at and speak directly to the person, not their interpreter. Speak as you would regularly. Make sure you are in a well-lit area where the person can see your face. Keep hands away from your face. If in doubt, as for clarification to ensure you have been understood. Try to hold your conversation in a quiet area, as background noise may be distracting


  • Be patient. If the person’s first language is a visual language (American Sign Language (ASL) or is not English, communication may take longer or be approached slightly differently than you are anticipating. Remember, the person is actually communicating in a second or third language.


  • Repetition, clear enunciation, and plain language can help everyone you speak with.


  • Help students take notes as you speak with them, or take notes for them – don't assume they will simply remember everything you say to them.



  • Treat a person with a mental or psychological disability with the same respect and consideration that you do anyone else. Be confident and reassuring. Listen carefully and work with the person to meet their needs. If someone appears to be in a crisis, ask them to tell you how you can be most helpful. You can refer the student to counseling, offer to call on their behalf, or walk them over in person.


  • Learn about the resources available on campus or in the community to assist persons with mental or psychological disabilities.

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