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Effective Workplace Communication: Courtesy and Respect for ALL Employees

These days, there's an awareness-building month for everything, and June is no exception. Did you know we're in the midst of Effective Communication Month? For businesses large and small, it's a fitting time to remind employees about the fundamentals of clear, compelling communication, which is a crucial professional skill.

The benefits of effective communication apply not only in meetings and public speaking settings, but also in one-on-one exchanges between employees.  And when some of those employees have disabilities, questions about communication and so-called disability "etiquette" are often raised.  Often, people want to show respect to their colleagues with disabilities, but don't know how.  Or, more accurately, they think they don't know how, when in fact they do — because the norms for being courteous and respectful to people with disabilities, including co-workers, are generally the same as those for being courteous and respectful of all people.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has a variety of resources that outline basic principles for communicating with and about people with disabilities, especially in the workplace context.  These include a fact sheet with guidance on "people-first" language and tips for interacting with people with different types of disabilities, as well as several resources from the ODEP-funded Job Accommodation Network, the leading source of free, expert and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and other disability employment issues.

So whether it's Effective Communication Month or any time of year, it's always a perfect time for you and your colleagues to brush up on your disability communication skills.  Doing so will help employees feel more confident interacting with not just people with disabilities, but all people.

For additional news and resources, sign up for ODEP's e-mail updates.