Since 1989, the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) has prohibited discrimination in housing on the basis of disability. The FHA defines disability as any physical or mental impairment that significantly limits a person’s performance of major life activities. This also includes invisible disabilities that may not be immediately apparent (e.g., fibromyalgia or ADHD).
Want to make sure you’re being as inclusive and welcoming as possible? Here are a few helpful suggestions for making accessibility a top priority.
Presenting and Viewing Properties
Never make assumptions. Ask about the individual’s specific needs and preferences up front to determine which properties are most appropriate for presentation. For example, a client who uses a wheelchair will have specific needs in terms of accessibility and clearance.
Choose words carefully. The American Psychological Association recommends a person-first approach (e.g., person with a disability), which puts more emphasis on the individual. But some clients may prefer identity-first language (e.g., disabled person), which is perceived to embrace and celebrate their disability.
Always defer to the preferences of the clients.
Language to avoid includes:
- Anything that may be perceived as pejorative or connote pity.
- Undue praise or glorification may evoke feelings of marginalization, objectification and even degradation.
- Well-meaning euphemisms (like handi-capable) may be perceived as condescending or imply that disability is a shameful quality.
- Descriptions of non-disabled persons as normal (implies that disabled people are abnormal).
Always choose language that is inclusive and respectful, opting for neutral terms whenever possible. Avoid terms that automatically disqualify prospective buyers (shopping within walking distance). Instead, simply present information in a factual manner (1 mile to downtown).
For more ways to improve the client experience, reach out today.