“Describing words used often enough become defining words.”
Too often, we fail to realize the power of our words to empower or limit people with disabilities. While having a disability is a part of who a person might be, it is not the whole of any person. However, when we use phrases like “autistic child,” “disabled adult,” and “wheelchair-bound friend,” we are using a person’s disability to define them and, in turn, limit them.
People First Language is the first step in establishing an atmosphere of acceptance and empowerment. Make it a habit to put the person before the disability. Say “child with autism,” “adult with a disability,” or “friend who uses a wheelchair.”
The next step of course is to learn a person’s name and preferences for language and to respect those preferences. Referring to someone by name is always the appropriate way to address them.
For more information, click the links below:
- Click here to download People First Language – In Depth.
- Click here to download People First Language – In Brief.
- Click here to download People First Language – Chart.
*Special thanks to Disability is Natural and Kathie Snow for allowing us to use this information.