As more learning-disabled and physically-disabled students are mainstreamed into regular classrooms, both teachers and non-disabled students might benefit from the following 11 tips to improve interaction offered by the Dallas Public Schools Special Education Department and The Arc of Dallas in the DPS District Times:
1. Use people-first language. A person should not be defined by his or her disability. When it is necessary to describe someone with a disability, the disability should be secondary. For example, don't say: "A crippled boy." Say: "A boy who uses a wheelchair" or "John uses a wheelchair." Don't say: "The deaf girl." Say: "Jane has a hearing impairment." Don't say: "He's retarded." Say: "Charles has Down's Syndrome" or "Charles has a learning disability."
2. Be friendly. Introduce yourself to students with disabilities. Ask their name and greet them by name in the future.
3. Invite students with disabilities or special needs to participate in your activities and to sit with you at lunch.
4. Offer to assist a person with a disability if it appears he or she needs help. Say: "May I help you with that, or, Are you OK?"
5. To assist a person with visual impairment, ask if he or she would like to hold onto your arm as you walk to your destination. Don't grab his or her arm.
6. If a student stutters, maintain eye contact while he or she is speaking. Listen without interrupting or trying to complete the sentence. After the person is finished speaking, repeat or paraphrase what he or she said. …