People with disabilities are not conditions or diseases. They are individual human beings.
For example, a person is not an epileptic, but rather a person who has epilepsy.
First and foremost they are people. Only secondarily do they have one or more disabling conditions. Hence, they prefer to be referred to in print or broadcast media as people with disabilities.
In any story, article, announcement or event advertisement, “people with disabilities” should be used either exclusively, or at a minimum, as the initial reference. Subsequent references can use the terms person with a disability or individuals with disabilities for grammatical or narrative reasons.
A disability is a condition caused by an accident, trauma, genetics or disease which may limit a person’s mobility, hearing, vision, speech or mental function. Some people have more than one disability.
A handicap is a physical or attitudinal constraint that is imposed upon a person, regardless or whether that person has a disability.
Example: Some people with disabilities use wheelchairs. Stairs, narrow doorways and curbs are handicaps imposed upon people with disabilities who use wheelchairs.
· When talking to a person with a disability, look at and speak directly to that person, rather than through a companion who may be along.
· Relax. Don’t be embarrassed if you happen to use accepted common expressions such a “see you later” or “got to be running along” that seem to relate to the person’s disability.
· To get the attention of a person with a hearing impairment, tap the person on the shoulder or wave your hand. Look directly at the person and speak clearly, naturally and slowly to establish if the person can read lips. Not all persons with hearing impairments can lip-read. Those who can will rely on facial expression and other body language to help in understanding. Show consideration by placing yourself facing the light source and keeping your hands, cigarettes and food away from your mouth when speaking. Keep mustaches well trimmed. Shouting won’t help. Written notes may.
· When talking with a person in a wheelchair for more than a few minutes, use a chair, whenever possible, in order to place yourself at the person’s eye level to facilitate conversation.
· When greeting a person with a severe loss of vision, always identify yourself and others who may be with you. Example: On my right is Pam Spillane.
· When conversing in a group, give a vocal cue by announcing the name of the person to whom you are speaking. Speak in a normal tone of voice, indicate in advance when you will be moving from one place to another and let it be known when the conversation is at an end.
· Listen attentively when you’re talking to a person who has a speech impairment. Keep your manner encouraging rather than correcting. Exercise patience rather than attempting to speak for a person with speech difficulty. When necessary, ask short questions that require short answers or a nod or a shake of the head. Never pretend to understand if you are having difficulty doing so. Repeat what you understand, or incorporate the individuals statements into your response. The person’s reactions will clue you in and guide you to understanding.
· If you have difficulty communicating, be willing to repeat or rephrase a question.
· Do not shout at a hearing impaired person. Shouting distorts sounds accepted through hearing aids and inhibits lip reading. Do not shout at a person who is blind or visually impaired. He or she can hear you!
· To facilitate conversation, be prepared to offer a visual cue to a hearing impaired person or an audible cue to a vision impaired person, especially when more than one person is speaking.
· When approaching a person with a service animal remember that the animal is working. Refrain from petting, feeding or deliberately startling the service animal.
Prepared from material compiled by the City
of San Antonio Disability Access Office.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 states:
No otherwise qualified person with a disability in the United States…shall, solely by reason of…disability, be denied the benefits of, be excluded from participation in, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance….
Understanding Section 504 is imperative, because it is the foundation for all terminology and access which impact students with disabilities at the University or university level.
Under Section 504 a person with a disability is any person who:
· has a disability or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities,
· has a history of such an impairment, or
· is regarded as having such an impairment.
A qualified person with a disability is defined as one who:
· Meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission or participation in the education program or activity.
Section 504 protects the rights of qualified individuals who have disabilities such as, but not limited to:
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Epilepsy or seizure disorder
Specific learning disability
Speech and language disorder
Spinal cord injury
Traumatic brain injury
|DISABILITY WEB RESOURCES: GENERAL|
The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission assists individuals with disabilities to live independently and go to work. MRC is the agency of the Commonwealth responsible for Vocational Rehabili-tation Services, Independent Living Services, and for eligibility determination for the SSI/SSDI (federal) benefits programs for Massachusetts citizens with disabilities.
The Massachusetts Office on Disability was created in 1981, under Chapter 6, Sec.185 of the Massachusetts General Laws. The purpose of the Office is to bring about full and equal participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of life. It works to assure the advancement of legal rights and for the promotion of maximum opportunities, suppor-tive services, accommodations and accessibility in a manner that fosters dignity and self-determination. MOD is the Commonwealth's Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinating Agency.
The mission of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is to make transportation easy and accessible for all travelers. That is why there are so many options for persons with disabilities, from call-a-lift buses, to elevators, to kneeling buses, to commuter rail access and "THE RIDE." The service descriptions available at their website help individuals choose the most suitable service.
Adaptive Environments, Inc. was founded in 1978 to address the environmental issues that confront people with disabilities and the elderly. They promote accessibility as well as universal design through education programs, technical assistance, training, and consulting, publications and design advocacy. AE also manages the New England ADA and Accessible IT Center, one of ten regional Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers across the United States, funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.
The Mass Accessible Housing Registry is a free program that helps people with disabilities find rental housing in Massachu-setts, primarily accessible and barrier-free housing. The Mass Access database keeps track of accessible and affordable apartments throughout the state and maintains information about their availability.
DisabilityInfo.gov is the comprehensive Federal website of disability-related government resources. The Federal Government remains committed to ensuring that Americans with disabilities learn and develop skills, find meaningful work, and realize the promises of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This site is part of the New Freedom Initiative, a comprehensive plan that promotes the full participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of American life.
Partners For Youth With Disabilities, Inc. is a nonprofit organization serving youth and adults with disabilities. Partners arranges supportive one-to-one relationships between youth and adults with similar disabilities. Its purpose is to provide disabled youth with role models who will enhance their self-esteem and give them greater confidence for facing their futures. In addition to providing role model relationships for youth, PYD sponsors recreational and educational programs throughout the year. These programs offer youth opportunities to discover their unique talents, abilities, and social skills.
|BLINDNESS and LOW VISION|
The American Foundation for the Blind is committed to leveling the playing field for the 10 million blind or visually impaired Americans. A nonprofit organization founded in 1921 and recognized as Helen Keller's cause in the United States, AFB is a leading national resource for people who are blind or visually impaired, the organizations that serve them, and the general public.
The American Council of the Blind founded in 1961 is the nation's leading membership organization of blind and visually impaired people.
The Carroll Center for the Blind serves the needs of blind and visually impaired persons by providing rehabilitation, skills training, and educational opportunities to achieve independence, self-sufficiency, and self-fulfillment and by educating the public regarding the potential of persons who are blind and visually impaired.
The Massachusetts Commission for the Blind is a state agency, established in 1906, to provide a wide range of social and rehabilitation services to legally blind Massachusetts residents of all ages. Agency services address a number of varied needs of individual blind persons. The mission of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind is to work in partnership with legally blind individuals to reach their goals of independence and participation in their communities.
|DEAF and HARD OF HEARING|
The Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH) is the principal agency in the Commonwealth serving people of all ages who are deaf, late deafened, and hard of hearing, and was established by Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 6 §191-197.
MassRelay is a 24/7 service enabling hearing people or people who do not use a text telephone (TTY) to communicate over regular telephone lines with people who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, and late deafened, or speech disabled or vice-versa. MassRelay is a service designed for people who live or work in Massachusetts and either use a TTY/PC for phone conversations or want to communicate with someone who does. Wireless text messaging is now available from AT&T and other companies.
The Northeast Technical Assistance Centerprovides outreach and technical assistance to postsecondary programs in the Northeast serving individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing. NETAC is one of four regional postsecondary education centers that provide technical assistance to postsecondary institutions across the nation. The four regional centers work collaboratively and are known as the Postsecondary Education Programs Network (PEPNet).
LD OnLine is a service of The Learning Project at WETA, Washington, D.C., in association with The Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities. It is one of the premiere sites on the web for information related to learning disabilities.
The Learning Disabilities Association of Massachusetts is a non- profit, volunteer organization including individuals with learning disabilities, their families, and professionals. LDAM is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for all individuals with learning disabilities and their families, and to alleviating the restricting effects of learning disabilities.
Richard Wanderman, a successful adult who happens to have a learning disability, coordinates LD Resources. Much of the reason for his success is that he uses a variety of tools, including computers, to organize his life and express his ideas This site is a good resource of information for students with learning disabilities as well as faculty and staff.
The Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation in Boston is a research, training, and service organization dedicated to improving the lives of persons who have psychiatric disabilities by improving the effectiveness of people, programs, and service systems.
|OTHER USEFUL SITES|
The Writing Place, a web site at Northwestern University includes "Tips for Writers" and other useful links.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is committed to lead the Web to its full potential by promoting a high degree of usability for people with disabilities.
Bobby WorldWide helps identify changes that can be made to websites to make them more usable for people with disabilities.
The National Women's Health Information Center (NWHIC) provides the first-ever federal resource center for women with disabilities, offering summaries about critical health issues for a variety of disabilities.
Last Modified: February 14, 2011