Words have a profound impact on shaping attitudes and perceptions. Incorporating People First Language demonstrates people are unique and their abilities or disabilities are part of who they are, not a definition of who they are. It helps break down community barriers to foster mutual respect, acceptance and open lines of communication.
Here are some quick tips:
- Always refer to the person and the disability he or she has respectfully and accurately. If you’re unsure about how to describe a disability, ask someone who knows.
- When writing or speaking about people with disabilities, it is best to emphasize abilities rather than limitations, and focus on a person’s accomplishments, creative talents or skills. That doesn’t mean you should avoid mentioning a disability or describing the impact it has had on the person’s life.
- Avoid using descriptions that connote pity, such as “afflicted with” or “suffers from,” because these terms carry the assumption that the person with a disability is living a reduced quality of life. Say "uses a wheelchair" instead of "confined to a wheelchair"
To download a PDF copy of our People First Language Style Guide, click here. For copies of Hamilton County DD Services publications, including annual reports and newsletters, click here.
If you have other questions, please contact Ryan J. Braun or Lisa Danford.