December 1, 2012

Six Easy, Inexpensive Ways to Be More Disabled-Accessible

This month Blue Avocado features an article by Mary L. Lester which indicates some simple ways to make your programs more accessible without spending tons of money. While she offers six easy and affordable ways to dramatically improve your accessibility for persons with disabilities, I was particularly impressed with the specifics she offered in her item #3 about conducting a ten (10) minute training that could be helpful for many volunteers and not just staff.

3. Do a 10-minute training at the next staff meeting on appropriate interaction with people with disabilities. Making some small changes in staff behavior can make create a huge leap in your accessibility. Here are the points to make (if you have a secret acting gene, act these out with a partner):

Don’t: Walk up to a low-vision or no-vision person and take him by the arm to lead him somewhere.

Do: Walk up and introduce yourself. Ask how you can help. If he asks for help getting to the conference room, say, “Let me walk you there. Would you like to take my arm?”

Don’t: Escort someone who is blind to the workshop room and then leave.

Do: After getting the workshop participant seated, say, “I’m going back to my office now. If there is anything you need during the workshop, Alice here can help you.”

Don’t: Speak to the sign language interpreter accompanying the deaf art gallery patron or the attendant of your client with cerebral palsy.

Do: Look at and speak directly to the art patron: “Is this your sign language interpreter?” Look at and speak directly to your client: “How can I be of help to you?”

Don’t: Pet a service dog or animal accompanying a person who is blind or has some other disability.

Do: Talk to the person and ignore the dog. If you really want to pet the dog, ask: “I know your dog is working. Is it okay to pet her?”

Don’t: You feel awkward and can’t find anything to say to a person with a disability, so you don’t say anything.

Do: If you see a person in the lobby, ask, “Have you been helped yet?” or get their attention by inquiring, “May I speak to you for a minute?” and then ask, ” Is there something I can help you with?”

Read the full article here.