Accessibility Services: Proper Etiquette Tips


  • Do not provide assistance to a student in a wheelchair unless assistance is requested.
  • Avoid demeaning or patronizing gestures.
  • Do not lean or hang on the wheelchair as this is an invasion of personal space.
  • For lengthy conversations, sit down and speak to the student at eye level.


  • Repeat information and/or answer questions patiently.
  • Provide the student with timely feedback to correct errors as soon as possible.
  • Give praise to the student when merited to build confidence.


  • Face the student when speaking.
  • Speak with a clear and resonant voice.
  • Avoid hand-to-face gestures that might obstruct a student’s hearing path or prevent him or her from reading lips.
  • Encourage other students to be aware of those who may not be able to hear.


  • Speak directly to the student and not to the interpreter.
  • Be attentive to gestures and facial expressions.
  • Accept and respond to all attempts at communication.
  • Avoid the temptation to complete words or phrases for the student.
  • Acknowledge when you do not understand the student’s response and ask the student to try again.


  • Introduce yourself and anyone else who may be present when speaking with the student.
  • Do not avoid using words such as see or look with the student as blind and visually impaired persons use these words also.
  • When walking with the student, allow him or her to take your arm just above the elbow. Walk in a natural manner and pace.
  • When offering a seat to the student, place the student’s hand on the back or arm of the seat and allow the student to seat him or herself.
  • If the student is accompanied by a guide dog, do not pet or distract the guide dog.
  • Inform the student when the furniture is rearranged.
  • Use verbal descriptions to supplement use of visual aids.

Service Animals

Per the ADA:

In situations where it is not obvious that the dog is a service animal, staff may ask only two specific questions:

  1. Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

Staff are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog, require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of the person's disability. Additionally, although service animals often wear vests or harnesses marking their status as service animals, they are not required to do so per ADA law. Learn More

Individuals should not:

  • Pet a service animal while it is working. Service animals are trained to be protective of their partner, and petting distracts them from their responsibilities.
  • Feed a working service animal.
  • Deliberately startle, tease, or taunt a service animal.
  • Separate or attempt to separate an individual from his/her service animal.
  • Hesitate to ask a student if he/she would like assistance if the student and/or service animal seem confused about a direction to turn, an accessible entrance, the location of an elevator, etc.
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