Orientation and Mobility

Providing cues and assistance for orientation is an effective way to reduce a patient's anxiety about navigating the dental office and to build rapport. When approaching a patient with visual or dual sensory impairment, it is appropriate to first introduce yourself by name while indicating your presence and position with a light tap on the person's shoulder, elbow, or hand. Be sure to alert the patient to changes in your location. As you verbally orient the patient to the office or operatory, describe the location of objects in the room (desk, tables, doorways, operatory chair, etc.) relevant to the patient (e.g., "on your right") and as specifically as possible. It may be necessary to facilitate tactile orientation to the environment if the patient experiences deafblindness. When you speak to a staff member, assistant, or patient during the visit, make sure to use names so that the patient knows whom you are addressing.

Prior to the appointment, ensure that the patient has a clear pathway from the entrance of the operatory to the operatory chair. Thoroughly describe any procedures before initiating treatment - and allow the patient to handle the dental tools, if requested. Establish a system of communication about relevant aspects of treatment, including yes/no responses and a means for the patient to notify you of pain and/or discomfort. See the Resource Document regarding the importance of nonverbal communication for more information.


Disability Etiquette Handbook. City of San Antonio Planning Department. Retrieved on February 7, 2006, from http://www.sanantonio.gov/ada/handbook15.asp

A Disability Etiquette Handbook. Seattle Office for Civil Rights. Retrieved on February 7, 2006, from http://www.ci.seattle.wa.us/civilrights/documents/Etiquetteguide-final.pdf