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Adopt a disability attitude

On a daily basis, persons with disabilities face social and physical barriers, such as attitudinal prejudice related to their disability, inaccessibility of buildings and other architectural infrastructure as well as inaccessibility of information and communication tools.

These barriers very often results from a lack of knowledge or awareness which can easily be overcome with very simple actions. Disabled persons can fully participate in the society if the attitudinal and physical barriers are removed.

Whether in your personal or
in your professional activities

What you can do as a citizen…

  • Focus attention on the person, instead of on the disability
  • Disabled persons should be treated like anyone else
  • Avoid prejudices linked to the outward appearance of a disabled person
  • Avoid a childlike or a pitying attitude towards a disabled person
  • Realize that disabled persons are no braver than anyone else
  • Always include the disabled person(s) in the conversation, he/she might also have interesting things to say
  • In a conversation with a disabled person accompanied by a personal assistant, address yourself directly to the disabled person, not the personal assistant
  • Always ask if the person needs help, do not assume he/she does
  • Let the person express his/her needs, do not make assumptions

Do you employ and manage staff?

  • Develop an equal opportunities recruitment policy
  • Offer traineeship opportunities for persons with disabilities
  • Develop a diversity policy within your business
  • Organize a disability awareness training for your staff
  • Make the building and the work place as accessible as possible (wider doors, ramps, accessible toilets, accessible telecommunication and technological tools, ….)
  • Whenever modifying the infrastructure of the work place or changing hardware and software material, always consult a disabled person before you implement anything

Do you organize leisure activities?

  • For excursions or trips, plan to order adapted vans/buses, enquire about the accessibility level of the places to be visited, ensure that sufficient accessible hotel rooms (adapted bathroom, large room, wider doors,…) are available for disabled participants
  • In sports activities, offer an accessible building or centre, including accessible changing rooms and easy access to the sport area.
  • For any activity, make sure that your leisure venue includes at least one accessible toilet, accessible buildings including indications in braille

Do you own a shop, a restaurant, a bar,… ?

  • Make sure your shop or restaurant is accessible to welcome disabled customers
  • Accept guide and assistance dogs in any place under any circumstances. These dogs are working dogs, not only for blind persons but also persons with reduced mobility.
  • Make sure your premises offer an accessible toilet

Do you own a hotel ?

  • Make sure your hotel provide some adapted rooms. An adapted room is a larger room including an adapted bathroom and wider doors 
  • In the public area, provide ramps, adapted toilets and accessible lifts with indication in Braille, and if possible a voice system announcing the floors
  • Allow assistance dogs under any circumstances

What can you do as a public authority ?

  • In libraries, offer a ramp to enter the building, offer a range of braille signs, audio or braille books, books in large print, books in easy-to-understand format. Bookshelves should be accessible to all, including wheelchair users and persons of short stature
  • In museums, offer an accessible building (ramps, braille, etc…) and ensure exhibitions are accessible to all (audio guided tour, braille descriptions, sign language video,…)
  • In shopping malls, next to steps and escalators, lifts and ramps should be provided.
  • Provide sufficient parking spaces for disabled persons near all public spaces
  • Any person has the right to move around freely and independently to any public building or any public space. Whenever creating or renovating building or a public space, think about the accessibility requirements on the basis of the “design for all” principles
  • Whenever public toilets are provided, one or more should be accessible to disabled persons
  • In any case, whatever you undertake, a very simple and useful tip : involve persons with disabilities in consultations on your constituency policies and intiatives

Do you organise events, meetings and conferences ?

  • Ensure that the venue infrastructure/hotel is totally accessible (ramps, lifts, door width, accessible toilet, indications in braille, assistance dogs allowed, adapted rooms including adapted bathrooms….)
  • Consult with each disabled participant about the necessary technical aids to compensate for their different needs
  • Place materials within reach (pens, paper, documents,….) rather than inaccessible place such as on the top shelf or high reception desk.
  • Provide accessible vehicles where a person can enter using a wheelchair and parking spaces for disabled persons arriving by car
  • For standing receptions, provide extra chairs for persons with walking/standing difficulties and place some ordinary tables (rather than high cocktail tables) which is more accessible to wheelchair users and which can also be used by deaf persons who needs their hands free for sign language
  • For blind and visually impaired persons, provide information in advance of the event information in large print or in electronic format for to read it with a braille reader
  • Make powerpoint or flipchart presentations as accessible as possible to visually impaired persons through a clear oral description of its content, or if possible send it in advance of the event
  • Blind people focus on sounds, therefore background noise or loud music should be avoided
  • For hard of hearing persons, provide a induction loop system (sound amplifying system) and/or a velotyping system (simultaneous transcription)
  • Ø For deaf persons, provide sign language interpretation if no sign language interpreter is accompanying the deaf participant.
  • Persons with mental disabilities might have difficulties to understand complex ideas. Provide signs they can use in case they do not understand. Provide easy-to-understand information together with pictograms.
  • Pay special attention to persons with disabilities in case of emergency

Do you provide information to the public ?

  • A blind person will prefer Braille, audio-tape and computer compatible material
  • A person with a visual impairment will prefer information printed in large letters and computer compatible tools
  • Persons who hard of hearing prefer visible written information such as simultaneous captioning, written display, subtitling. They also prefer sound amplifying systems. More specifically, deaf persons, who are sign language users, prefer communication presented in their native sign language. They often communicate with hearing persons through the medium of a sign language interpreter.
  • A person with an intellectual impairment will prefer easy-to-understand text and marks such as pictograms
  • Make sure your website respects the Web accessibility guidelines (WAI guidelines)  enabling disabled persons to surf on the web without technical barriers

Are you a journalist or do you work in the media industry ?

  • Don’t talk about “the disabled” as though they are a group apart, say “disabled persons” or “persons with disabilities”
  • Don’t use the word ‘handicap’ because it can prompt negative images
  • Don’t say ‘he is wheelchair bound’, or ‘confined to a wheelchair. Just say ‘He uses a wheelchair” or “he is a wheelchair user”
  • Don’t use words that make disabled people seem frail or dependent, like ‘victim of’, ‘crippled by’, or ‘suffering from’. The word ‘invalid’ should also be avoided as it can be understood as the person is ‘not valid’.
  • Promote positive images of disabled people that are not based on charity or the medical approach and avoid negative stereotypes
  • Increase the visibility of disabled people in all genres and improve the portrayal and inclusion of disabled people
  • Increase programmes which specifically concern disabled people and their families
  • Include the participation of persons with disabilities in mainstream programmes
  • By entering in the 21st century, we entered the digital era, which must benefit also to people with disabilities bringing the opportunity for all television programmes to be subtitled and provided with audio-description

Do you develop websites?

  • Persons with disabilities very much like to surf on the web. For some it is their own window out to the society. Make sure that your websites are developed in accordance with the Web Accessibility Guidelines

Do you work in telecommunications?

  • Disabled persons should be able to access the same range of telecommunication products as any other consumer. Make sure that you develop any device, eg mobile phone, telephone, computer, etc… according to the principle of “design for all”
  • Whatever you undertake, a very simple and useful tip : always consult with persons with disabilities first, they are the consumers.
A pinch of knowledge,
two spoons of awareness,
and a handful of simple actions,
are the ingredients of a very successful
“Disability Attitude”
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European Year of Equal opportunities for all

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