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City of Miami Beach
1700 Convention Center Drive
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
Phone: 305.673.7000

Disability Etiquette

Principles of Disability Etiquette

It is our commitment to include people with disabilities in all aspects of our City Government. To insure we are following not only the law, but also the intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act in providing for the needs of our citizens.

Consider the whole person, not just the disability.
Instead of "John, the deaf man," view John as a person who is deaf. Mary is not an "epileptic;" she is an individual with many attributes, who happens to have epilepsy.

The term "handicapped" is no longer the accepted terminology when referring to a person with disability.
The term is best used when referring to accessible features such as "handicapped parking" or restrooms.

Treat adults in a manner befitting adults. Address people with disabilities by their first names only when addressing others in a like manner.
Do not use gestures such as patting on the head a person who uses a wheelchair. Speak in a normal tone and avoid commenting on how well a person can "maneuver their wheelchair," "get around" or other comments on how they function with a disability.

Be patient.
It may take longer for a person with a disability to say or do something. Don't finish people's sentences for them, especially if they have a communication impairment.

Speak directly to the person.
Look at them, not their companion or interpreter.

Don't make assumptions regarding intelligence.
A disability is not a reflection of intellectual capability.

Don't assume a person with a disability needs or requires assistance.
Have respect for a person's independence. When assistance does appear to be needed, ask first, wait until the offer is accepted, then listen or ask for instructions.

Relax and act naturally.
It is okay to use common expressions such as "see you later" or "I'll run right over" that seem to relate to a person's disability.

Offer to shake hands when being introduced.
Be aware that the person may not have use of one or both hands. A touch on the forearm can serve as a welcome.

Use a normal, non-patronizing tone of voice when speaking to a person with a disability.

Be a role model in your interactions.
Your actions can have a positive effect not only with the individual but others as well.

To the greatest degree possible, treat someone with a disability the same way you would treat anyone else in the same situation.

Provided by Abilities of Florida, a not-for-profit agency serving people with disabilities.

Contact the ADA Manager:

ADA Office:

Miami Beach City Hall
1700 Convention Center Drive,
Public Works, Fourth Floor
Miami Beach, FL 33139