6 Golden Rules

  1. Always be natural when befriending persons with disabilities (PWDs) like us. As long as you are sincere in trying to be inclusive by reaching out and treating us as equals, we will appreciate it.

  2. Don’t stare at us. Say hi or offer to help.

  3. Don’t make assumptions. We know ourselves best. Let us make our own decisions about participating in any activity, and respect our wishes if we want to do things by ourselves.

  4. If you’re unsure of something, just ask. Don’t end up avoiding us just because you’re worried about accidentally saying something that would offend us.

  5. Hiring us does not add significant additional costs in the long term. Singapore also provides subsidies and assistance programmes to make the workplace more accessible for PWDs. For more information, visit sgenable.sg

  6. When speaking about us, place our personhood before our disability to avoid defining us by our impairment. For example, don’t say "intellectually disabled person". Say "person with an intellectual disability” instead. Or just treat us like how you would treat anyone else.

Physical Disability
“Hi, I'm Ethan. Don't let my wheelchair become a barrier between us. Here's what you can do.”

  1. Be aware of our reach limits.

  2. Do not push or touch our wheelchair or crutches without asking us first.

  3. When talking to us, stand as you would normally, but step back a little to provide comfortable eye contact. Otherwise, sit down if a chair is available.

  4. When eating together at a hawker centre or food court, do offer to help us carry our food. It’s not easy to balance a tray of lor mee while using a wheelchair.

  5. It’s alright to ask us if we know where the wheelchair ramp is.

Hearing Impairment
Hi! I'm Roseanne. There are many ways to communicate with people who are deaf, like me. Find out more!

  1. Get our attention before speaking. Touch us lightly on the shoulder or wave your hand. You can also switch the lights on and off.

  2. Face us when speaking. Look and speak directly to us, even when a sign language interpreter is present.

  3. Speak one at a time when in a group. Speak clearly, do not shout and do not cover your face. We need to see your face to read your lips.

  4. Not all hearing-impaired people can read lips.

  5. If we don’t pick up what you’ve said, try rephrasing it instead of repeating yourself.

  6. Don’t speak unusually slowly or loudly. Our hearing aids are already tuned to voices at normal volumes.

  7. If you have trouble understanding us, let us know and ask which alternative communication method we prefer. You can use pen and paper or type into your phone to show us what you’re saying.

Visual Impairment
“Hello, I’m Dickson. Here are some things to know when meeting visually impaired people, like me.”

  1. Identify yourself and others who may be with you before making physical contact.

  2. When conversing in a group, announce the name of the person to whom you are speaking.

  3. To guide us, allow us to hold your elbow instead of holding our arms as we may need our arms for balance. Don’t push, pull or grab our white canes to direct us.

  4. Never touch our white canes or guide dogs without permission. Guide dogs need to be alert and focused to assist us. If we put down our cane and it’s in your way, just let us know.

  5. Persons with guide dogs are welcome in shops, restaurants and recreation and public facilities. This is supported by religious organisations including MUIS, public transport companies and government ministries.

  6. Do offer to read out written information, such as the menu. Count out the change received so we know which bills are which, too.

  7. Give us specific, non-visual information. For example, during a meal, you can describe what’s on our plate using a clock orientation (“the rice is at 6 o’clock”, “the ikan bilis is at 9 o’clock”.)

  8. Please tell us before you leave.

Autism Spectrum Disorder
“My name is Ivan. You can help me understand you better if you follow these tips.”

  1. Be patient. Give us time to process and respond to you.

  2. Speak literally and describe the request. Ask us, “Do you want to join us for dinner?” instead of “Are you free tonight?” We may have trouble reading between the lines and may ask questions to clarify what you said.

  3. Consider moving to a quiet location if we are in a public area with many distractions.

  4. Always be direct when communicating with us. We may have trouble interpreting facial expressions and emotional body language.

  5. We may struggle with maintaining eye contact when you are talking to us, due to sensory overload. It doesn’t mean we are ignoring or disrespecting you.

  6. Speak to us normally and as an equal. Don’t speak in an exaggerated manner.

  7. One voice at a time. We find it difficult to listen to two people speaking at the same time.

  8. Consider moving to a quiet location if we are in a public area with many distractions.

  9. There is no known cause or 'cure' for autism. Parental behaviour before, during and after pregnancy does not cause autism.

  10. Never use the words “retarded” or “spastic” to refer to us.

Intellectual Disability
“I’m Wanyi. Do you know how to talk to people with intellectual disabilities?”

  1. Maintain eye contact. Speak directly to us and not our caregivers.

  2. Speak in a clear, concise and simple manner.

  3. Consult us instead of making decisions on our behalf. Ask us for our opinions and give us time to respond.

  4. Do not be offended by a lack of response or unconventional behaviour from us. Be patient and continue talking to us at a regular pace.

  5. Include us in social activities. Be friendly and kind.

  6. Acknowledge and encourage us when we make significant achievements, not when we manage trivial tasks. That would be condescending.

  7. If you’re not being understood, change your way of communicating with us. Use real objects, photos and pictures to explain things to us.

  8. We understand when you are talking about us, rather than to us, and it hurts our feelings.

For more tips, please click here