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Being Neighborly: Disability-Inclusive Considerations for Living in a Community

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The following are a few examples with general advice, lived experience anecdotes, and tips for all students on how to be good neighbors and community members for students with varying abilities and disabilities. Most students might not realize how their actions may disproportionately impact some of their peers.  

  • Do not assume all dogs are pets. Service animals are trained to stay attuned to the needs of their handler;  as a result, petting or trying to play with a dog can distract it from doing its job. In addition, do not shout at or take pictures of a student and their animal. If you have a question or want to interact with an animal, ask the person/owner for permission first.  Lastly, never coax or move an animal away from their owner, without the owner’s consent.
  • Be mindful of quiet hours and proximity to residential spaces when gathering with other students. Loud music and social gatherings can be extremely disruptive to other residents with heightened sensitivity to noise (e.g. misophonia, autism, ADHD), or sleep related disorders such as insomnia.  What might be your favorite song on repeat could be a painfully disturbing sound, or a disruption for others.
  • Students may have an accommodation to be assigned to a specific type of room/location. Please don’t repeatedly ask or put students in positions where they may feel pressured to switch rooms.  (A student may not want to disclose or share their disability situation with their peers). If you are an undergraduate student who is seeking a different housing assignment, you may submit a request to reassign via your Stanford Axess account.
  • Be considerate when biking, skateboarding, or utilizing electric scooters/bikes in crowds. Students with mobility issues, or cognitive impairments (e.g. concussions) may not be able to react as quickly as you anticipate.
  • Please be mindful of crowding into elevators or unintentionally blocking doorways as this may be the only accessible pathway for a student with a disability to get to their intended destination
  • For food in public spaces or self-serve type settings, it is important to consider potential cross-contamination: For example, when providing mustard or mayonnaise spreads for sandwich bars, cross contamination occurs when the utensil used to spread the condiment on a slice of bread is returned to the condiment container, which then cross-contaminates the spread (with gluten, wheat, other allergens) for any individual who subsequently uses it. Additionally, students with airborne allergies may not be able to be in the same room as someone eating a food with their allergen (such as red apples, peanuts, etc).  
  • In classrooms, be aware of how your actions affect the environment for others (e.g. perfume/cologne, blocking accessible doorways, using the accessible furniture, etc.).

If you are a student with a disability or medical condition and want to explore whether academic or housing accommodations are right for you, consider registering with OAE

For more information on how you can support disability inclusion at Stanford, please visit: