Tips and Strategies to Promote Accessible Communication

Tips and Strategies to Promote Accessible Communication (PDF)

2022 • 46 Pages • 1.24 MB • English
Posted July 01, 2022 • Submitted by Superman

Visit PDF download

Download PDF To download page

Summary of Tips and Strategies to Promote Accessible Communication

REMOVING BARRIERS Tips and Strategies to Promote Accessible Communication Produced by The North Carolina Office on Disability and Health With Woodward Communications Produced by The North Carolina Office on Disability and Health with Woodward Communications Editor Sally McCormick, Woodward Communications Design Lorraine Woodward, Woodward Communications The North Carolina Office on Disability and Health is a partnership effort with the Women’s and Children’s Health Section of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Through an integrated program of policy, practice, and research, the North Carolina Office on Disability and Health promotes the health and wellness of persons with disabilities in North Carolina. © First Edition 1999 The North Carolina Office on Disability and Health. Second Edition 2002 (Revised) Permission is granted to reprint this document. Please acknowledge the North Carolina Office on Disability and Health Foreword Chapter 1 1 Disability Awareness Debunking the Myths 1 Interacting with People with 3 Disabilities General 3 Hearing 3 Vision 4 DeafBlindness 4 Speech 5 Cognitive 5 Mobility/Wheelchair Users 6 Service Animals 6 People-first Language 7 Chapter 2 9 Communication Aids and Alternative Formats Printed Materials 9 Pros and Cons of Alternative 10 Formats Large Print 11 Computer Disk 12 Audio Tape 13 Braille 15 Interpreters 16 TTY 17 Speech-to-Speech Service 18 Video Relay Service 18 Captioning 18 Chapter 3 19 Creating Inclusive Materials Printed Materials 19 Tips to Enhance Readability 19 Use of Color 20 Paper Selection 21 Spanish 21 Web/Computer-based Materials 21 Videos 23 Personal Computer Presentations, 24 Overheads and Slides Chapter 4 25 Media Relations Reporting on People with 25 Disabilities Interviewing People with 26 Disabilities Hearing 27 Vision 27 Speech 27 Cognitive 27 Mobility/Wheelchair Users 28 Appendix A 29 Glossary of Terms Appendix B 34 Making a TTY Call Directions for Making a Call 34 TTY Communication Tips 36 TTY Abbreviations 37 Appendix C 38 Products for PC Users Acknowledgements 39 Table of Contents A s disability awareness and sensitivity increases, many professionals are looking for resources to help them improve their interactions with people with disabilities. To meet this need, the North Carolina Office on Disability and Health has created this guide to accessible communication to facilitate the inclusion of people with disabilities and increase the ease with which everyone relates to each other. Removing Barriers: Tips and Strategies to Promote Accessible Communication is a compilation of materials submitted by a number of organizations and individuals (see Acknowledgements). Its purpose is to be an easy-to-read, quick reference guide that addresses the basics in communicating with people with disabilities. This document is not meant to be an exhaustive, comprehensive resource but rather a good starting point for communications professionals and others to use in their work as well as private lives. This guide focuses on ways to effectively communicate and interact with people with disabilities by providing information and tips that can be incorporated in the workplace as well as in other activities of daily community living. Most of the recommendations are low- or no-cost approaches that would be easy to implement in a variety of settings including government, non profits, advocacy agencies, private businesses, the general public and the media. This document is an excellent resource for a number of people including communi- cations professionals, graphic artists, printers, educators, the media and people with disabilities. Even if you don’t understand all the material or don’t need it for what you do, share it with others who are responsible for those areas. People with disabilities can also share this guide with others to facilitate improved communications and greater use of alternative formats. The information in this guide is limited to communicating with people who have more visible disabilities such as hearing, vision, mobility, speech and cognitive limitations. However, it is important to recognize there are also "invisible" disabilities, such as mental illness and serious environmental allergies, that people need to be sensitive to in their interactions with others. Many of the suggestions in this guide constitute universal "best practices" in communications. By incorporating the recommendations, you are making improve- ments that will benefit a wide audience. We encourage you to use this and other resources to enable everyone to better communicate with each other and to promote full inclusion of people with disabilities. Foreword 1 Chapter One Disability Awareness A major component to successful communications is being comfortable with the person with whom you are interacting. For many people, there is some awkwardness in communicating with people with disabilities—they’re just not sure how to act and what to say. Should you look at people with a mobility or disfiguring disability and risk them thinking you’re staring at them, or do you ignore them, avoiding eye contact and risk making them feel ostracized? Should you help someone who seems to be having difficulty getting his/her wheelchair up an incline? What do you do when you can’t understand someone with a speech disability? Learning more about disabilities will increase the comfort level in interactions with people with disabilities. Because of medical advances, technology, the variety of services available and an attitude shift towards inclusion and integration, many people with disabilities are active members of their communities. Debunking the Myths In spite of significant changes in the world of disability, it is important to recognize that some people still have negative stereotypes and misconceptions about people with disabilities. One of the first steps in improving communications with people with disabilities is to discard and disprove these myths that can put people with disabilities in a separate “class.” Following are some common misconceptions and facts about people with disabilities. Myth 1: People with disabilities are brave and courageous. Fact: Adjusting to a disability actually requires adapting to a lifestyle, not bravery and courage. Myth 2: Having a disability means you cannot be healthy. Fact: Persons with disabilities can experience good health and full participation in community life. They benefit from the same health-enhancing activities as the general population. Myth 3: Wheelchair use is confining; users of wheelchairs are “wheelchair-bound.” Fact: A wheelchair, like a bicycle or an automobile, is a personal assistive device that enables someone to get around. Myth 4: Curious children should never be allowed to ask people about their disabilities. Fact: Many children have a natural, uninhibited curiosity and ask questions that some adults might find embarrassing. But scolding children for asking questions may make them think there is something "bad" about having a disability. Most people with disabilities won’t mind answering a child’s uestions, but it’s courteous to first ask if you can ask a personal question. Myth 5: People with disabilities always need help. Fact: Many people with disabilities are quite independent and capable of giving help. But if you want to help someone with a disability, ask first if he or she needs it. Myth 6: The lives of people with disabilities are totally different than those of people without disabilities. Fact: People with disabilities go to school, get married, work, have families, do laundry, grocery shop, laugh, cry, pay taxes, get angry, have prejudices, vote, plan and dream, just like everyone else. Myth 7: There’s nothing one person can do to help eliminate the barriers confronting people with disabilities. Fact: Everyone can contribute to change. You can help remove barriers by: I Understanding the need for accessible parking and leaving it for those who need it; I Encouraging participation of people with disabilities in community activities by making sure that meeting and event sites are accessible; I Understanding children’s curiosity about disabilities and people who have them; I Advocating for a barrier-free environment; I Speaking up when negative words or phrases are used in connection with disability; I Writing producers and editors a note of support when they portray people with disabilities as they do others in the media; I Accepting people with disabilities as individual human beings with the same needs and feelings you might have; and I Hiring qualified persons with disabilities whenever possible. 2 Interacting with People with Disabilities When interacting with people with disabilities, it is important to extend them the same courtesies and respect that are shown to others. However, there are some rules of etiquette that will help both you and the person with the disability feel more comfortable. Following are some general recommendations as well as some disability- specific tips to improve communication and interaction skills. In general I Relax. Be yourself. Don’t be embarrassed if you happen to use accepted, common expressions such as "See you later" or "Got to be running along" that seem to relate to the person’s disability. I Offer assistance to a person with a disability if you feel like it, but wait until your offer is accepted BEFORE you help. Listen to any instructions the person may want to give. I Be considerate of the extra time it might take for a person with a disability to get things done or said. Let the person set the pace in walking and talking. I When talking with someone who has a disability, speak directly to that person rather than through a companion who may be present. I It is appropriate to shake hands when introduced to a person with a disability. People with limited hand use or who wear an artificial limb do shake hands. Hearing This disability can range from mild hearing loss to profound deafness. Some persons who have hearing loss use hearing aids. Others may rely on speechread (lip reading) or sign language, but many do not. Following are some ways to improve communication with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing. I To get the attention of a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, tap the person on the shoulder or wave your hand. I Follow the person’s cues to find out if he/she prefers sign language, gesturing, writing or speaking. I Look directly at the person and speak clearly, slowly and expressively to establish if the person can read your lips. Those who do will rely on facial expressions and other body language to help in understanding. Remember, not all persons who are deaf or hard of hearing can lip read. 3 I Speak in a normal tone of voice. Talking too loudly or with exaggerated speech can cause distortion of normal lip movements. Shouting won’t help. I Place yourself facing the light source and keep your hands and food away from your mouth when speaking. Do not try to communicate while smoking or chewing gum. Keep mustaches well trimmed. I Try to eliminate background noise. I Written notes can often facilitate communication. I Encourage feedback to assess clear understanding. I If you have trouble understanding the speech of a person who is deaf or hard of hearing, let him/her know. Vision As with hearing loss, there is a wide range of vision loss. People with low vision have limited vision even with correction. Others may have a total loss of vision and experience blindness. These guidelines will facilitate better communication with people with vision loss. I When greeting a person with a severe loss of vision, always identify yourself and others who may be with you. Say, for example, "On my right is Penelope Potts." I When conversing in a group, remember to say the name of the person to whom you are speaking to give vocal cues. I Speak in a normal tone of voice, indicate when you move from one place to another and let it be known when the conversation is at an end. I When you offer to assist someone with a vision loss, allow the person to take your arm. This will help you to guide rather than propel or lead this person. When offering seating, place the person’s hand on the back or arm of the seat. I Let the person know if you move or need to end the conversation. Let the person know if you leave or return to a room. I Use specifics such as "left a hundred feet" or "right two yards" when directing a person with a vision loss. DeafBlindness There are varying degrees of DeafBlindness. For example, one person may be completely deaf and partially sighted while another may be totally blind and hard of hearing. For this reason, a combination of communication guidelines listed previously may be appropriate for people who are DeafBlind. (NOTE: The words Deaf Blind are written as either DeafBlind or Deaf-Blind. There is some disagreement on the "right" way within the DeafBlind community.) 4 Speech Speech disabilities are seldom related to intelligence. A person who has had a stroke, is severely hard of hearing or has a stammer or other type of speech disability may be difficult to understand. Following are some guidelines for communicating with people whose speech is slow or difficult to understand. I Give whole, unhurried attention when you’re talking to a person who has difficulty speaking. Allow extra time for communication. I Keep your manner encouraging rather than correcting. Be patient—don’t speak for the person. I If necessary, ask short questions that require short answers or a nod or shake of the head. I Never pretend to understand if you are having difficulty doing so. Repeat what you understand. The person’s reaction will clue you in and guide you to understanding. I Use hand gestures and notes. Cognitive Cognitive disabilities may be attributed to brain injuries, developmental or learning disabilities, or speech and language disabilities. The following techniques may be used in communicating with persons with cognitive disabilities: I Be patient. Take the time necessary to assure clear understanding. Give the person time to put his/her thoughts into words, especially when responding to a question. I Use precise language incorporating simpler words. When possible, use words that relate to things you both can see. Avoid using directional terms like right-left, east-west. I Be prepared to give the person the same information more than once in different ways. I When asking questions, phrase them to elicit accurate information. People with cognitive disabilities may be eager to please and may tell you what they think you want to hear. Verify responses by repeating each question in a different way. I Give exact instructions. For example, "Be back from lunch at 12:30," not "Be back in 30 minutes." I Too many directions at one time may be confusing. I Depending on the disability, the person may prefer information provided in written or verbal form. Ask the person how you can best relay the information. 5 Mobility/Wheelchair Users There are several rules for interacting with people with mobility limitations, especially those who use wheelchairs, that will make everyone more comfortable. I Remember that any aid or equipment a person may use, such as a wheelchair, guide cane, walker, crutch or assistance animal, is part of that person’s personal space. Don’t touch, push, pull or otherwise physically interact with an individual’s body or equipment unless you’re asked to do so. I When speaking with someone in a wheelchair, talk directly to the person and try to be at his/her eye level, but do not kneel. If you must stand, step back slightly so the person doesn’t have to strain his/her neck to see you. I When giving directions to people with mobility limitations, consider distance, weather conditions and physical obstacles such as stairs, curbs and steep hills. I Always ask before you move a person in a wheelchair—out of courtesy, but also to prevent disturbing the person’s balance. I If a person transfers from a wheelchair to a car, barstool, bathtub, toilet, etc., leave the wheelchair within easy reach. Always make sure that a chair is locked before helping a person transfer. Service Animals An important component of interacting with a person with a disability can be knowing how to interact with that person’s service animal. Service animals, such as guide dogs for the blind and assistance dogs and monkeys, should not be considered as pets. They are working animals. Following are a couple of rules for interacting with service animals. I Service animals should not be petted or otherwise distracted when in harness. I If the animal is not in harness, permission from the animal’s companion should be requested and received prior to any interaction with the animal. 6 People-first Language The way a society refers to persons with disabilities shapes its beliefs and ideas about them. Using appropriate terms can foster positive attitudes about persons with disabilities. One of the major improvements in communicating with and about people with disabilities is "people-first" language. People-first language emphasizes the person, not the disability. By placing the person first, the disability is no longer the primary, defining characteristic of an individual but one of several aspects of the whole person. For example, it is preferred to say, “people with disabilities” instead of “the disabled.” An exception to this rule is for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. In general, the deaf community does not like to be referred to as having hearing impairments. It prefers deaf or hard of hearing. Use “hard of hearing” to refer to people who have hearing loss but communicate in spoken language. “People with hearing loss" is also considered acceptable. Many people who are deaf and communicate with sign language consider themselves to be members of a cultural and linguistic minority. They refer to themselves as Deaf with a capital "D" and may be offended by the term "hearing impaired.” Also, people with disabilities may use the words disabled and crip to refer to themselves. They would also be likely to say, “I am blind,” or “I am a paraplegic.” Using “crip” language is part of the disability culture. However, people without disabilities should not use this terminology. If you don’t know the appropriate words to use, simply ask the person what is preferred. Following is a chart of some examples of people-first language. The glossary in Appendix A also provides terms and definitions to assist you in better communicating with and about people with disabilities. 7 8 People-first Language people with disabilities people with mental retardation he has a cognitive disability my son has autism she has Down syndrome he has a learning disability she has a physical disability he’s of short stature or he’s short she has an emotional disability he uses a wheelchair typical kids or kids without disabilities he receives special ed services or additional support services accessible parking, bathrooms, etc. she has a need for… Labels Not to Use the handicapped or disabled the mentally retarded he’s retarded my son is autistic she’s a Downs kid, a mongoloid he’s learning disabled she’s crippled he’s a dwarf (or midget) she’s emotionally disturbed he’s wheelchair bound or confined to a wheelchair normal and/or healthy kids he’s in special ed handicapped parking, bathrooms, etc. she has a problem with… People First Language N umerous communication aids and accommodations are available to enable successful communication. These may include the use of qualified interpreters (sign language, oral or tactile); materials in alternative formats such as large print, audio tape, Braille and computer disk; a reader; and assistive listening devices. This chapter addresses some of the aids available for people with disabilities. Printed Materials Printed materials can be a significant barrier for people who have vision, learning and cognitive disabilities. Therefore, it is important to have alternative format options available, typically in the form of large print, Braille, audio tape and computer disk. The original publication should include information about alternative formats that are available. The following table outlines the pros and cons to each of these alternative formats. When possible, ask the recipient which format he/she prefers. 9 Chapter Two Communication Aids and Alternative Formats 10 Pros and Cons of Alternative Formats Disabilities Formats Pros Cons Vision Large Print Provides access for many Long documents may persons with low vision cause eye strain. Braille Good for complex Only 10 percent of information, short reference individuals who are materials (less than 10 blind read Braille. pages), and for information that is referred to repeatedly Documents in Braille such as meeting agendas are bulky and heavy. Vision and Mobility Audio recording Popular format that can be If materials are long or accessed and stored easily complex, audio recordings and conveniently present the information in one dimension that is Eliminates the need to difficult to reread, scan or manipulate a publication use as a reference source. Audio tapes do not always illuminate word spelling or format of the text. Difficult to communicate large tables or complicated graphics/ illustrations. Vision, Mobility Electronic Users can access text on Users must have access to and Hearing diskette or through online a computer, be equipped resources using adaptive with a modem (for online devices such as Braille resources) and have display, speech output, adaptive devices. Braille printing, large- screen magnification or Many software interfaces adaptive keyboard designs. are graphically based TTYs with an ASCII option or use point-and-click or PC-based TTY-compatible menus for accessing the modems allow users to information. Braille communicate electronically translation software, with an information center or speech output devices, bulletin board system, and TTYs cannot access reducing the dependence on this type of information. voice-only telecommunications. Easy and compact storage Easy to use as a reference document Large Print Many people with vision loss have some sight and can read large print. Large- print material can be produced by using a photocopier or a computer where a large type size can be selected. There is some disagreement as to whether the minimum type size should be 16-point bold or 18-point bold. For people with low vision, 18-point bold should be the minimum standard. Even with type this size, most persons with low vision use high magnification to read it. This is Times Roman bold 16-point type This is Times Roman bold 18-point type Here are some other tips for producing large-print documents. I The best contrast with the least glare is bold or double-strike type on light yellow paper. White paper produces too much glare. Do not use red paper. I If white paper needs to be used, use an off-white paper that will still give good contrast while producing less glare than white. I Avoid glossy paper because it causes glare. I The paper should not be larger than standard 8.5” X 11”. I Make sure the weight of the paper is sufficient to prevent “show-through” printing. I Use one-inch margins and use right margins that are ragged, not justified. I The gutter margins (the adjoining inner margins of two facing pages in a book, magazine, etc.) should be a minimum of 22 mm (7/8 in.), and the outside margin should be smaller but not less than 13 mm (1/2 in.). I The line of text should be no longer than six inches (approximately 50-60 characters per line). Anything longer than six inches will not track well for people who use magnifiers. I Simplify formatting. Remove formatting codes that make the document more difficult to read. For example, centered text is difficult for some people to track. Text should begin at the left margin. Avoid the use of columns. Use dot leaders for tables of contents. I Avoid complicated, decorative, or cursive fonts for text and headlines. Use a simple serif font, such as Times New Roman, for text. Serifs are the fine lines projecting from a letter. For example, this “T” is a serif type style and has small lines projecting down from the top of the T and across the bottom. This “T” is san serif—it does not have any extra lines. 11