Recommendations for Individuals with Disabilities

A summary of quick tips for individuals with a disability to adhere to during COVID-19.The University is dedicated to ensure students with disabilities have access to education and campus life, especially during a pandemic. The following information should serve as a resource for accommodating individuals with a disability as they return to campus, and to further inform those with disabilities of some helpful practices.

Tips for people with disabilities

Be proactive and advocate for your needs.

Individuals with mobility concerns or who use mobility devices

  • Social distancing will limit capacity on elevators, campus transportation (including paratransit) and other common areas.
  • Be sure to incorporate more time in your schedule, as it may take longer to do things on campus.
  • Plexiglas shields should be at a height that provides a barrier for you at face level. Be prepared to ask for assistance if this is not the case.

Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing

  • Alternate communication methods may be necessary to communicate with individuals wearing face masks or speaking behind Plexiglas shields. Consider carrying pen and paper or using phone applications to communicate effectively.
  • Be sure to wear a mask when around other people.
  • Notify those you are interactive with that you are deaf or hard of hearing before engaging in a conversation. Consider using a pre-written note that explains you will need an alternate communication method.  
  • Ask people to repeat or write down verbal information to ensure you have understood correctly.

Individuals who are blind or have low vision

  • Be sure to wear a mask when around other people.
  • Adhere to social distancing requirements. You may want to call ahead or request assistance upon arrival to a location.
  • If you use a white cane, consider using your cane sweep to help with maintaining social distancing requirements.
  • If you are unable to see floor stickers used to maintain social distancing requirements, be prepared to ask for assistance.
  • Remember that Plexiglas shields will be present in areas of high interaction.

Individuals with medical or immunocompromised conditions                                           

  • The CDC provides guidance regarding underlying medical conditions and COVID-19.
  • Think ahead about what needs might arise when you are in a public environment. Assess if social distancing is possible and explore what measures are being taken to promote social distancing.
  • Make sure you are adequately supplied with masks and other protective equipment before entering a situation. 
  • Be prepared to remind others of the need for social distancing and remove yourself from a situation if deemed unsafe for your well-being. 
  • Consult with your medical professional regarding recommendations pertaining to your specific needs.

Tips for assisting people with disabilities

Ask how you can help before taking action.

General tips

  • Be mindful that facial gestures and lip reading are primary components of communication for the deaf and hard of hearing.
  • When wearing a mask, alternate communication forms may be required, which may include a pen and paper or a phone application to communicate effectively.‚Äč
  • Maintain eye contact with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Remember to incorporate wheelchair maneuvering clearances (a five-foot radius) and accessible routes when planning for social distancing in a physical space.
  • Sign language interpreters cannot wear masks while actively interpreting. Ensure that the interpreter is 6 feet or more apart from others.  Disability Services can assist with a plan if needed.
  • Use elevators only when necessary.  Give priority to those who cannot use stairs.
  • Ask in writing if the information was understood; repeat if asked.
  • Remember that some people might not be able to see the floor stickers and posters that instruct social distancing of 6 feet.  
  • Be prepared to provide verbal instruction to help an individual who is blind or has low vision position themselves for safe distancing.   
  • Plexiglas shields should be at a height that provides a face-level barrier for wheelchair users. If this is not the case, work with the wheelchair user to provide service without compromising safety for either of you.
  • Provide verbal cues of items in your space, including Plexiglas shields and floor stickers for social distancing, if indicated.
  • If you are asked to wear a mask or social distance from a person, do not ask what the medical condition or disability is. This is private, legally protected information.