Faculty Tips for Disability Awareness

Appropriate Language

  • People with disabilities are people first. The correct wording is to state the person first and then the disability; thus, you would say "the person who is visually impaired" rather than "the blind man or woman." This places the emphasis upon the person, not the disability.
  • Do not use the word handicapped.
  • Avoid labeling individuals as victims.
  • Avoid terms such as wheelchair bound. Wheelchairs provide access and enable a person to get around independently. People are not bound to wheelchairs; they use a wheelchair to assist them.
  • When it is appropriate to refer to an individual's disability, choose the correct terminology for the specific disability.
  • Avoid stereotyping persons with disabilities into the same category. Disabilities vary greatly from one to another and even two people with the same disability may have greatly different experiences and capabilities.

Confidentiality Strategies

  • Always speak to a student privately about their disability or accommodation(s). Avoid allowing other students or faculty to hear these conversations. This includes conversations regarding testing accommodations, class absences related to the disability, etc.
  • When helping to facilitate note-taking services, refer to the note-taking memo that has accompanied the student's Letter of Accommodations. Be sure not to announce the student's actual name.
  • Arrange for students to pick up copies of notes or class materials that have been put into an accessible format in a time and manner that protects their confidentiality.
  • When in doubt as to what to do to protect the student's right to confidentially ask the student how they would prefer something to be handled or call the Student Disability Services.