COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – More than 59 million Americans have some kind of disability yet many people are unaware of proper etiquette when it comes to interacting with the disabled community, which happens to be the largest minority group in the country.
The Rocky Mountain ADA Center is hoping to change that by offering two free online courses on disability etiquette.
“There really isn’t an excuse, five minutes that you have today or five hours it doesn’t matter, you can commit what you have available,” said Chris Phelps, Project Consultant for the Rocky Mountain ADA Center.
The courses are designed for busy learners to come and go as they please.
“Leave anytime you want and come back and you’ll pick up almost exactly in the same place that you left off,” said Phelps.
Phelps said they used adult learning theories and principals to create the interactive courses that are made to apply to real world situations and answer questions that are sometimes hard to ask.
“You know if you encounter someone who has a prosthesis we don’t know do we shake their hand? Do we put our hand out to shake or do we back off?” said Maggie Sims, Rocky mountain ADA Center Project Manager. “So it’s not that we don’t want to interact I think many times the public just doesn’t quite know how.”
Sometimes even our best intentions can still hurt people.
“People think because I’m deaf that I’m hearing impaired and they think that that is the politically correct term, but it’s actually very offensive to deaf people and the deaf community,” said Paul Simmons, an employee at the ADA Center. “Hearing impaired implies that we are broken.”
The courses took about a year to develop and complete.
“We’re pretty proud of it and feel like it will really be such a helpful tool for the public,” said Sims.
And while the courses were designed with businesses who work with the public in mind, they’re open to anyone who wants to learn.
Simmons said everyone should take the course.
“Including me. I may be deaf but I still need to be aware and learn how to interact with people with other disabilities,” he said.
“We’re all a part of this community in one way or the other, or we will be one day, so we’re just making the world more welcoming for everybody,” said Sims.
Click here for more information and to sign up for the free courses: http://www.rockymountainadatraining.org/login/index.php