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California State University, Long Beach
Important information about the university's response to COVID-19
Bob Murphy ACCESS Center
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Faculty Handbook: Helpful Attitudes and Etiquette


  • Don't be afraid to approach a person with a disability. Simply treat them as you would like to be treated - with respect. If you have questions about whether or not a student needs an accommodation, the first person to ask is the student.

Speak Directly to the Student

  • Speak directly to the student with the disability. Don't consider a companion to be a conversation go-between.

Speak Distinctly and Slowly to a Hearing Impaired Student

  • When talking to an individual with a hearing loss, speak slowly without exaggerating lip movement. Stand in front of the person and use gestures to aid communication. Many such students rely on reading lips. If you are uncertain if the information is being fully understood, write notes.

Appreciate Abilities

  • Students with disabilities, like those without disabilities, do some things well and others not as well. By focusing on what they can do, instead of what they can't, you will help build their confidence.

Wheelchair Etiquette

  • A wheelchair is part of a person's "personal space". No one should lean on a chair, touch it, or push it, unless asked. When pushing a wheelchair, ask the person how he or she wants you to proceed. When you are talking with a student in a wheelchair, be seated so the student does not have to peer upward at you.

Service Dog Etiquette

  • Companion and guide dogs work for their owners and should not be played with or petted while in harness.

Architectural Barriers

  • Be alert to possible architectural barriers in places you want to enter with a person with a disability. If the person is on crutches or in a wheelchair, opening a door is appreciated. Also, watch for poor lighting, which impairs communication for persons with hearing and visual impairments.
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