There is no single answer of the members of the disabled community in favor of people-first language. Every person has their own life experiences and may feel strongly about person-first language, prefer you recognize disability as an important part of their identity, or may not really care one way or another. It can sometimes be tricky to know.
Language is often corrupted in our society. What is the worst insult nowadays that a child can sling at another child? “Retard”. When people use the word “retard” or “retarded” in casual conversations, it is insulting and degrading to those who happen to have that label.
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Language is powerful. And if we misuse words, we reinforce the barriers created by negative and stereotypical attitudes. When we refer to people with disabilities by medical diagnoses, we devalue and disrespect them as members of the human race. For too long, labels have been used to define the value and potential of people who are labeled. Often, when people hear a person’s diagnosis, they automatically make assumptions.
People First Language
People First Language describes what the person has, not what the person is. The People First Language puts the person before the disability. The support coordinator (formally known as service coordinator) should make reference to the person first, then the disability. The support coordinator should say “a person with a disability”, rather than “a disabled person”.
People First Language also means avoiding the use of words or phrases that evoke pity or fear, or that have a negative connotation. Support coordinators should avoid words such as abnormal, birth deaf, burden, deformed, disfigured, invalid, imbecile, idiot, moron, palsied, spastic, tragic, victim, suffers from, or stricken with.
There are different views regarding whether the majority of the groups are in favor of calling people names with the first language or not. According to most of them, “The body is not an apology”. But some of them, want to call themselves with the first person language but not in an offensive manner.
People First Language Examples –
- Say… People with disabilities, Instead of… Disabled or handicapped
- Say… She has autism, Instead of… she’s autistic
- Say… She’s of short stature, Instead of… She is a dwarf
- Say… Typical kids(Kids without disabilities), Instead of… Normal or healthy kids
- Say… She needs or she uses, Instead of… She has a problem with
- Say… She has a learning disability, Instead of… She is learning disabled
- Say… Accessible Parking, Instead of… Handicapped Parking
- Say… She receives special ed services, Instead of… She is in special ed
- Say… She uses a wheelchair, Instead of… She’s wheelchair-bound
- Say… She is an emotional disability, Instead of… She is emotionally disturbed
Sometimes it is difficult to know what language to utilize, however here are a few rules that might be useful:
- Begin by calling an individual by his or her name who is disabled.
- People with a disability join some groups where disability first language is preferred over person-first language.
- When communicating in a group it is vital to refer a disability. But start with person-first language and welcome every correction.
The disability community is the largest minority group in our nation. It includes people of all ages, of both genders, individuals from all religions, ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic levels. Anyone can join this community. We are people. We will make sure the fact is not ignored in the discussion about our bodies is not our responsibility.