- Book flights well in advance and call the airline directly to ensure that all disability-related needs will be met. Ask for the name and position of each person you speak with and record this information.
- Make arrangements for travel to and from airports. Many U.S. companies like taxis and airport shuttles offer this service free of charge.Make these arrangements well in advance along with your flight arrangements to avoid frustration upon arrival and departure.
- Arrive at the airport one hour earlier than normally advised. This will allow time for accommodations to be made and avoid delays through security.
- Consider varying the lengths of your flights depending on disability-related needs. Long flights may be uncomfortable, especially for people who cannot use inaccessible airplane toilets. Shorter connecting flights may be a better alternative.
- Allow at least 90 minutes between connecting flights (or longer if required to pass through immigration and customs during a layover) in order to ensure enough time to transfer between gates.
- Try to investigate the layout and access features of all of the airports along your route even if you’re only expecting a short layover and consider possible contingency plans if access is unavailable. A bedpan or urinal in your carry-on luggage just might save the day if you are a wheelchair user.
- Ask for assistance and be specific on how to be lifted if needed in enplaning and deplaning, including assistance beyond the screener checkpoints and between connecting gates but keep track of your luggage if going through customs.
- Request that an unticketed individual assist you through security to your boarding gate, if needed, by going to the airline’s check-in desk and receiving a "pass" allowing them to go through the screener checkpoint without a ticket.
- Set up special dietary requirements or need for assistance at meals(airline personnel are not permitted to assist with eating, but should assist with opening packages and identifying food items on a meal tray).
- Request a specific seat in advance such as the bulkhead seat (first row in a section) if needed for wheelchair transfer, a physical condition, or for your service animal. Be aware that not all seats have moveable armrests.
- Research online information about border patrol and customs screening at the airport and if you have difficulty communicating explain what would be helpful for them to do related to your disability (e.g. writing on piece of paper their questions).
People who live with disabilities often face fear, discomfort, and hostilityat a rate that far exceeds that encountered by those who do have no disability. The vast majority of such treatment is rooted in a basiclack of understanding about the challenges that come with having adisability, and the experience of sharing the world with people who do not. People often seek to fill in gaps in their knowledge, and when information is lacking, confusion and even fear may result.
Anyone wishing to overcome this experience in themselves will be best servedby first recognizing that a disability is a limited phenomenon. A physical disability may have a large impact on how an individual interacts with the physical word. A sensory disability may alter the gathering of information. These are conditions however, in no way prevent the individuals who live with them from having unique personalities, talents, knowledge, humor, and lives. People who live with disabilities have more in common than not with those who have no disability. We all share the same existence, and the same basic needs. In order to establish a foundation, he top three considerations, as repeated in the vast majority of lists of disability etiquette concerns are:
- Ask if a person needs assistance before attempting to assist them. All people, whether or not they live with a disability, take pride in what they are able to do. Making any assumption about a person’s abilities in any given situation can rob them of this feeling.
- Speak directly to a person with a disability, even if he or she has an interpreter. While a person with a hearing impairment may have to look at an interpreter for communication, it is discouraging to everyone to be looked around or over when communicating with someone.
- Ask permission before touching and assistive device or service animal. These items and creatures are the tools that the user needs to live their life. They are very important, and very personal.
Never Say Never
The more a discussion of etiquette directly relates to lifestyles and personal abilities, the more likely it is that the word “never” is used to illustrate what not to do. While this is often a useful guideline, it can be cumbersome in some situations. In some cases, people who are less experienced in respectful and positive communication may stumble over wording, and significantly impair communication efforts. In other cases, people who are living with a disability may have feelings about language that is not in keeping with the established guidelines for etiquette. Whatever the reason, the commonly recognized best practices of disability-related etiquette may not always be the preferred practices, and it is always most important for the most effective and respectful communication, to first respect the wishes of the individual.
People with mobility impairments are often the most immediately identifiable people who are living with disabilities. As such, the stigma that our culture attaches to these people out of fear and ignorance, often impacts people with mobility impairments most frequently, and most harshly.
- Town Hall: Wheelchair Etiquette A succinct 15-point list of considerations for interacting withsomeone who uses a wheelchair
- Mobility Advisor: Wheelchair Etiquette A simple rundown of wheelchair etiquette points
- Non Wheelchair User Etiquette A guide by a person who uses in a wheelchair
Developmentaland Cognitive Disabilities
Developmental and cognitive disabilities are an extremely broad, but very inter connected category. Both types of disability frequently occur together as a result of a single causal factor, though they just as frequently occur individually. While an experienced and compassionate person may be able to recognize that a person has a developmental disability, there is often no way of knowing whether the person also suffers from a cognitive disability without interacting with that person. Likewise, cognitive disabilities may occur in people who do not appear externally to have any disability whatsoever. It may take observation of behavior and interaction to determine how to communicate most appropriately with someone. Further, a basic recognition that a person’s behavior differs from the range that is considered mainstream may not absolutely indicate a cognitive disability, but could be a result of a mental illness (see below) or simply a personality quirk that does not constitute a disability. Lastly, a person with a cognitive disability may not be recognizable in casual interaction. Conditions such as dyslexia, and attention deficit are classified as cognitive disabilities, and can reasonably require both accommodation and sensitivity, but neither will necessarily be immediately apparent. It is in this broad category that the most care must be taken in making assumptions about what aperson is or is not capable of doing on their own or with assistance.
- People with Mental Retardation or Cognitive Disabilities Focusing on assumptions about cognitive disability.
- Employer’s Guide to Hidden Disabilities A discussion of a number of cognitive disabilities and other problems which may not be apparent
- People with Developmental and Cognitive Disabilities An overview from United Cerebral Palsy
- Cognitive Disabilities A non-etiquette-specific document intended to provide specific consideration to a range of cognitive disabilities
- Cerebral Palsy or Other Muscular or Neurological Limitations A focused article from the Student Affairs office of Lawrence Tech
Make no assumptions about what someone who is blind can and cannot do. Modern assistive technology has made things that were formerly inaccessible to the blind common place. A primary example is computer usage, which has become a nearly ubiquitous skill for sighted people, and is rapidly becoming standardized as audio screen readers and web standards converge.
- Being a sighted guide A reference on tPeople with mobility impairments are often the most immediately identifiable people who are living with disabilities. As such, the stigma that our culture attaches to these people out of fear and ignorance, often impacts people with mobility impairments most frequently, and most harshly. He established protocol for assisting someone as a sighted guide
- BlindEtiquette 101 Some words of advice from a person who lives with a vision impairment
- Resources for Access and Etiquette A set of resources specifically geared toward interacting with people who use guide dogs
- Etiquette A run down of etiquette considerations for people interacting with those who are blind in social and professional situations
Deafness is an extremely common disability, and one which does not present the same mobility issues faced by many other people with disabilities. This combined with modern support for signing (which was once discouraged as a form of communication) has resulted in vibrant deaf communities springing up around the world. Still interacting with a person who is deaf can be challenging, as deafness presents a communication barrier not experienced by most people who live with disabilities.
- FourTop Tips:
- Deaf Community Etiquette A set of the basic considerations for etiquette in the deaf community
- Communicating with Deaf People: A Primer A comprehensive set of guidelines for hearing people.
- Deaf Culture, History and Importance An introduction to the unique culture formed by people who are deaf
- American Sign Language An introduction and overview of manual deaf communications forhearing people
People living with mental illness may or may not have a disability. The specific criteria for determining the nature or severity of apsychiatric condition that constitutes a disability constantly shifts, but generally rests on a consideration of the level of impairment of daily activities suffered by the person in question.The biggest barrier faced by people living with mental illness is the lack of understanding which is nearly universal to almost all psychiatric disorders. Stigma and the accompanying ignorance, remains the primary barrier to overcome.
- Interaction & Etiquette Tips A set of guidelines to consider when interacting with a person known to live with mental illness
- Basic Etiquette: People With Mental Illness A 10-point rundown of assumptions to avoid
- Fight Stigma Stigma Busters from the National Organization on Mental Illness
- Disability Etiquette A broad guide provided by the City of Sacramento, California
- Focuson Ability Tips for employers interviewing applicants who have disabilities
- Developing Sites A guide to web development for users who have cognitive or learning disabilities (most accessible design is focused on visual disabilities)
- Discribing People With Disabilities A resource on people first language for use when talking about people who have disabilities.
Mistakes Will Be Made
Everyone will at some point make a mistake in conversation. This is one occasion that requires absolutely no special consideration for people who live with disabilities. As when interacting with anyone else,when a mistake is made, simply apologize. People who live with disabilities learn early and unequivocally that others are frequently uncomfortable interacting with them. Most people who have lived with a disability since birth (and many who have not) have experienced bullying and harassment as a result of individual ignorance. A conversational error will not be the harshest experience suffered by any person living with a disability. An apology is an acknowledgement of an error and of a person’s intention to be sensitive. Communicating an awareness of etiquette and concern for an individual’s feelings may even set one apart from the crowd, and be the first step toward making a new friend.
This summer, Lego will release its first-ever mini-figure that uses a wheelchair, the company says, confirming reports that emerged after one of the toys was seen at a toy fair. In recent years, the company has been urged to show more diversity in its offerings.
An image taken from a video by Lego fan website Zusammengebaut shows a new miniﬁgure in a wheelchair. The toy will go on sale in June, the company says.
German website Zusammengebaut and other Lego fan outlets published photographs of the figurine at the International Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany, on Wednesday, setting off celebrations among those backing a movement called Toy Like Me, which urges Lego, Hasbro, Fisher Price and other toymakers to include disabilities in some of their figurines.
Included in Lego's upcoming Fun at the Park set, the wheelchair is seen being used by a youth wearing a beanie cap and a hoodie.
"We are beyond happy right now," Rebecca Atkinson of Toy Like Me says in a statement posted online. "Lego have just rocked our brick built world and made 150 million disabled kids, their mums, dads, pet dogs and hamsters very very happy.
The wheelchair is part of Lego's City line and will go on sale in June, according to Emma Owen, Lego's spokesperson in Britain and Ireland.
"This is the first LEGO mini figure with a wheelchair, although previously there was a LEGO Duplo range, a series of the toys aimed at pre-school children, that featured an elderly man in a wheelchair," website The Mighty explains. "That set was criticized by activists for reinforcing stereotypes about wheelchairs only being for the elderly. This new figure is a part of the LEGO line aimed at older kids."
Atkinson, a journalist and disability consultant, says Lego's move "will speak volumes to children, disabled or otherwise, the world over."
More than 20,000 people have signed Toy Like Me's online petition that calls on Lego to use its toys to "help generations of kids, (both with and without disabilities), grow up with a more positive attitude to human difference!"
In October, Uber announced on their website that they are to launch their latest service to London. The new addition to the taxi-hailing app, named UberASSIST, provides additional assistance to the company’s disabled users.
Uber believe that the new app, which has already been launched in several different US cities, represents progress for London’s transport system. The company states that disabled people are ‘underserved byLondon’s transport network’ and that ‘only 24% of London’s underground stations have step free access.’
Furthermore, research conducted by the disabled charity Scope confirms that disabled people are more likely to use taxis and private car hires than non-disabled people – an added financial burden that should be controlled and regulated. The research concludes that the car hire industry often over-charges passengers that require additional assistance. The new service costs the same as a normal UberX ride without any additional fees. Uber claims that more than one hundred of their London drivers have already signed up to the new scheme before it has even been launched.
HowDoes The App Work?
Firstly users download the Uber app onto their Smartphone and set up a personal profile.
Passengers who require additional service have to enter the code ASSISTUK into the promotion screen. The user then has the option to select a trained driver who has completed a disability equality course. Drivers are then informed of this request ahead of time.
So What’s All The Fuss About?
Uber has become a topic of discussion recently due to their controversial nature that has sparked protest from the black taxi cab drivers. Uber’s rapid expansion due to their low fares is believed to have threatened the black cab industry.
With this additional service for the disabled, Uber is attempting to avoid more controversy. Black cabs are designed to accommodate non-folding wheelchairs as well as easy access. However, up until now, Uber has made little effort to accommodate disabled passengers. Uber has stated that they plan to add “additional fully accessible vehicles” next year. The company also plans to improve the app to accommodate the needs of their blind and deaf passengers.
It’s too early to tell for sure whether the scheme will be successful or whether it is mainly a PR exercise. But the fact that Uber is atleast taking steps to address the problems that their ride-share service poses to the disabled community is a welcome addition to the discussion.
compiled by Roberta Rosenberg - Destination Accessible US, Inc.
Note: This list is a result of my research. It is by no means complete. I have visited many of the sites listed. Others were recommended to me. It is my hope that it is helpful to you. I apologize in advance if any of the resources listed are not what I thought them to be.
www.onread.com - access to 1,5000,000 books
www.googlebooks.com - over 30 million books scanned by Google
www.wikihow.com - answers to any "How do I...question."
www.getyourguide.com - tours, classes, travel experiences online
Facebook Live - many different things (ex: cooking classes)
www.ted.com - TED Talks, almost any subject you can think of
www.travelandleisuremagazineonline.com - a wealth of information
www.seniornetli.org - online tech skills taught in interactive sessions
www.kennedy-center.org - Kennedy Center at Home (the arts)
www.metopera.org - The Metropolitan Opera
www.carnegiehall.org - Carnegie Hall
www.metmuseum.org - Metropolitan Museum of Art (Art at Home)
www.mentalfloss.com - 12 world class museums you can visit online
www.timeout.com - section about best things to do at home each week
www.the guardian.com - news, sports, opinion
www.forbes.com - access to some articles at no cost
www.theartnewspaper.com - news of the art world
www.nycgo.com - visit NYC online
www.studyinternational.com - online multiplayer games
www.agameon.com - popular free games for one or two
www.boatloadpuzzles.com - thousands of free crosswords
www.npr.org - lots of fun things that weren't free before Covid
www.pcmag.com - quarantine & learn - 11 fun online courses for you
www.sites.google.com - one player games
www.thisamericanlife.org - different story theme each week
www.experiments.withgoogle.com - 100,000 starts takes you through
an interactive tour of the galaxy
www.smithsonian.org - high-tech stories without "stuffy language"
www.nasa.gov - tons of things are space - virtual, live, interactive, etc.
www.insider.com - 360 degree tours of Disney Parks and others
www.artsandculturegoogle.com - offers virtual tours and
commentaries from over
230 museums in 40 countries.
There are also 11 tours of theater
stages around the world.
Google Street View - allows you to feel like you are walking down a
street or road
You Tube - upload, view and comment on videos
Universal Class - check to see if your library subscribes -
allows you to take courses at your own pace while
interacting with a live instructor
The following is just a partial list of museums offering virtual tours:
British Museum, London
Musee d'Orsay, Paris
MASP, San Paolo
American Museum of Natural History
National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City
Pergamo Museum, Berlin
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy
Zoos and Aquariums "live stream" Some of the best rated are:
Monterey Bay Aquarium
San Diego Zoo
Aquarium of the Pacific
Smithsonian National Zoo
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Cincinnati Zoo (Home Safari)
Many colleges offer free, online classes - even Harvard and Yale!
Online games, either solo or with friends (or you can play with others
you do not now) Ex: Words with Friends
What Do We Need to Feel “Safe” As We Visit Reopened Venues? by Roberta Rosenberg - Destination Accessible US, Inc
After months of “staying home” during the Covid-19 Pandemic, businesses are slowly reopening. Many of us are preparing to venture out to visit them. “Fear is an emotion we do not need to feel when we return to stores, restaurants, etc., after the shutdown.” (LoopNet 5/27/20) What kind of environment do you/I want/need to make us feel safe enough to go to a venue that we may have frequented in the past, or visit a new one?
I would like to think that everything businesses are doing is a work in progress. Hopefully, they are doing everything they believe they need to do, while at the same time reevaluating what they are doing on an ongoing basis. Businesses need to make things the best they can be, based on the latest information they receive.
That being said, what do you and I need to feel safe when visiting a store, restaurant, museum, or other venue? I am not including theaters, because we do not have enough information about them yet.
After doing quite a bit of reading, listening to a variety of business and government leaders, and reaching out to friends and family, I have put together some guidelines which I hope will be useful to you. It is not intended to be definitive by any means. There are probably things I have not included. (I would love your comments/suggestions - see below).You may need to have all of them in place when you visit a venue. You may only need to see some of them to feel comfortable. What you/I do is up to us, because in the end, it is up to each of us to stay as safe as possible.
- I would suggest, as a general rule, before going to any venue, visit their website, and/or social media platforms to see what they are saying about their own proactive safety measures. For myself, if I do not feel they are offering enough information, I may feel they are not doing enough, and I may not want to visit them yet.
I have heard that a “pledge” will soon be offered for businesses to sign, stating what they are doing for our safety. It may be posted on their website and/or in their windows for all to see. That sounds like a good idea. Look for it! I will.
- If I decide to visit a venue, what will I be looking for when I get there, before I enter ?
- Have they made distancing guidelines outside the venue if I need to wait to enter?
- Are there any signs (and/or the “pledge” ) clearly visible for all to see about their preparedness?
- If there are steps or a ramp, is there hand sanitizer available to me before I need to touch any handrails?
- If there is a “push button assist” door opener, is there sanitizer available to wipe it?
- Are there hand sanitizers available before entering? Is the door open or do I need to open it myself?
3. What do I need to see once I am inside?
- I need to see signs that the space has been thoroughly cleaned
recently. Do I see fingerprints, stains, etc?
- I need to see signage stating when the space was last cleaned,
who is doing the cleaning, and details of a regular cleaning/sanitizing program.
- I need to see highly visible hand sanitizer stations throughout the venue.
- I need to see signage that clearly explains their practices, such as limiting capacity, social distancing standards, payment methods, cleaning procedures, etc. that show an organized approach to keeping patrons safe.
- I need to see a visible increase of ongoing cleaning practices while patrons are there. I need to see personnel dedicated to disinfecting surfaces like counters, tables, etc.
- I need to see signs that personnel have been properly trained, wearing masks, gloves.
- I need to see adjustments in the physical space, including traffic flow, barriers between employees and patrons, and number of people inside.
- I need to know how the restrooms have been kept as clean as possible for me to use. If I need to open the door are wipes available? Are there automatic faucets and flushers. Are there automatic soap dispensers? Are paper towels available instead of automatic hand driers? If I need to touch a door handle to exit, are sanitizers available close by? As I said at the beginning, these are only suggestions, offered to help you make a personal decision about visiting a reopened business.
In closing, one of the best things I heard someone say was , “If it looks like the old and familiar “business as usual” I might just want to rethink visiting that venue at this time.
Roberta Rosenberg is the founder of Destination Accessible US Inc. a non-profit organization dedicated to providing first-hand, accessibility information of leisure locations for people with mobility challenges.
I would love to hear from you regarding your thoughts. Comments/suggestions are always welcome.
Contact me at email@example.com or leave a
message at www.destinationaccessible.org.