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Communicating with People with a Particular Communication Need

You don't need a long list of do's and don'ts; you need to use the common courtesy and good communication skills you would expect to use with any colleague or customer. Everyone has a right to be treated with dignity and respect.

You don't need detailed knowledge about particular types of disability. Remember you are talking to a person first and foremost. If you are in doubt as to how to respond to a person's disability, ask them. He or she will usually be able to tell you what you need to know and what help, if any, they need.

Language is a sensitive issue and a number of terms can be offensive. Language could be the subject of a booklet in itself. As an introduction, use the following guidelines when talking to, or about, disabled people:
  • Always include the word people – "the disabled" is not a generic group.
  • Never use terms that refer to people as victims or objects of pity.
  • Avoid medical terms – people don't like to be referred to as a medical condition.
  • Use respect and avoid patronising language or behaviour.
  • Remember that terminology is changing. If you are in doubt – ask.
  • Treat people with disabilities with the same respect as everyone else, e.g. only use the person with a disability's first name if you are using other people's first names.
  • Offer to help if it is appropriate, but wait for an answer. Listen to the person's answer and respect their decision.
  • Communicate directly with the person, not their companion or interpreter.
  • Before the meeting ask if people have specific information requirements and meet these, if possible.
  • Visit and make sure the venue for a meeting is fully accessible by taking a wheelchair user to check out suitability.
  • Always ask if the person would like someone to take notes for them and in which format they would like to receive these notes.
  • Where there are several communication methods, such as for hearing impaired people, ask which the person prefers.

Don't worry about using phrases that might be related to a person's disability. For example, it is fine to say "Let's look and see what we can find" to a blind person.


The signs given below are examples only. It is important to remember that signs should be easily understood by the intended audience. If permanent signs are needed, you are advised to discuss the requirements with the Facilities Manager, you can get in touch through telephone on 01905 763763 ext 2894.


Wheelchair access

Wheelchair access – For people with limited mobility, including wheelchair users.

Disabled parking

Parking for people with disabilities – NB. When arranging a meeting ensure there are suitable parking facilities for people with disabilities.

Wheelchair access with ramped entrance

Wheelchair access with ramped entrance – NB. A ramp is only accessible if it has kerb cuts.

Access for low vision

Access for low vision –
Access or assistance for people with visual impairments.

Assisted hearing systems

Assisted hearing systems – There are systems available for transmitting sound via hearing aids, headsets and infrared or loop systems.

Information Access Point

Information Access Point – A place to obtain information and find out what formats are available.

Directional arrows

Directional arrows –These signs assist people to find their way around, e.g. to a meeting.

This Information can be made available in other languages (including British Sign Language) and alternative formats (large print, audio tape, computer disk and Braille) on request from Corporate Diversity Manager on 01905 766225 or email

Further Information

In this section

More Information

See also in our website

External websites

  • Equality and Human Rights Commission
    Works to eliminate discrimination, reduce inequality, protect human rights and to build good relations, ensuring that everyone has a fair chance to participate in society.
  • Plain English
    A website of an organisation who have been fighting for crystal-clear communication since 1979.
  • Worcestershire Racial Equality Council (WREC)
    The WREC assists people who believe they have been discriminated against, or who experience difficulty in using mainstream services because of language and cultural differences.
  • BBC Interfaith Calendar
    Interfaith holy days and festivals Calendar.

We are not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more

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This page was last reviewed 29 May 2013 at 15:01.
The page is next due for review 25 November 2014.