People First Language

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the
difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”
                                   ~Mark Twain

 What  is People First Language?

People First Language is the respectful way to speak about people with disabilities by putting the person before the disability.  The disability is only one part of the whole person.  People First Language allows for the focus to be on the person and their strengths, abilities and potential to realize thier dreams.  When we put the disability first, we unfairly, and probably unconsciously, label the individual, and labels contribute to negative stereotypes.  Unless it is significant to the conversation, you don’t even need to refer to the disability.  Remember to concentrate on getting to know the person-not the disability.

Examples – People First Language
Say This Not This
people with disabilities the handicapped, the disabled
people without disabilities normal, healthy, whole or typical people
person who has a congenital disability person with a birth defect
person who has (or has been diagnosed with)… person afflicted with, suffers from, a victim of…
person who has Down syndrome Downs person, mongoloid, mongol
person who has (or has been diagnosed with) autism the autistic
person with quadriplegia, person with paraplegia, person diagnosed with a physical disability a quadriplegic, a paraplegic
person with a physical disability a cripple
person of short stature, little person a dwarf, a midget
person who is unable to speak, person who uses a communication device dumb, mute
people who are blind, person who is visually
the blind
person with a learning disability learning disabled
person diagnosed with a mental health condition crazy, insane, psycho, mentally ill, emotionally disturbed, demented
person diagnosed with a cognitive disability or with an intellectual and developmental disability mentally retarded, retarded, slow, idiot, moron
student who receives special education services special ed student, special education student
person who uses a wheelchair or a mobility chair confined to a wheelchair; wheelchair bound
accessible parking, bathrooms, etc. handicapped parking, bathrooms, etc.