If one of your new co-workers is blind, deaf, or in a wheelchair and you haven't spent much time with someone with a disability before, you may surprise yourself by doing something insensitive that, in retrospect, may be fairly obvious. Some simple rules of etiquette can help you from doing something stupid (a general goal in life).
Don't lean on wheelchairs. Someone who uses a wheelchair views it as an extension of his body. If you bump someone's chair (even if you don't bump the person), say "excuse me."
Speak normally. If someone is deaf, speak directly to him and not to his interpreter. And when you shout REALLY LOUD, you jump straight to the front of the idiot line.
Shake hands. If someone has an artificial limb or is missing a limb, offer to shake his hand. Using your left hand is ok.
Don't be overly helpful. The best way to find out if someone needs your help is to ask.
Be accommodating. If you're having a conversation with someone in a wheelchair, sit down so that you are at eye level (when possible).
Identify yourself. When speaking with someone who has a visual disability, he may not recognize you with your fancy, new $2.99 cologne. Say, "Hey, Rico Suave here."
Be patient. When speaking to someone who is speech impaired, listen attentively and be patient. Ask short questions that require short answers, and never pretend to understand if you don't.
Bert's first boss used a wheelchair, so he always tried to be extra cautious not to say something stupid or offensive.
One day while waiting in the lobby for a client meeting, Bert realized that he forgot the big presentation. He said to his boss, "We need to take a walk back to the car."
"What?" she asked in a puzzled voice.
Bert blurted out, "I mean, we need to take a walk and a roll back to the car!"
His boss smiled as she explained to him that if someone is disabled, it doesn't mean that she's easily offended.
"Whew, that's a relief," Bert exclaimed. "I've been dying to ask you if you color your gray."