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People First Langauge

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  • People First Langauge

    I've derailed another thread already, and seeing that we have a spelling/grammer vent thread - I thought a thread about People First Language was long overdue

    People First Language is about recognising that people are people first and foremost.

    It's not about Political Correctness (just thought I'd get in first) it's about being respectful and at least polite - it's about manners. It's about being positive.

    It's not a fad, it's not the new hip in-words - it's about remembering always that people are people

    For many people, attitude makes life harder than a disability can, especially when the attitude is about someone else's extra challenges in life

    With the right attitude from everyone, disabilities and challenges can be overcome.

    A disability is a medical diagnosis

    So, we say - the girl with ADD, the child who has print blindness, a man who is a double amputee WHEN the disability is requried to be discussed - otherwise we talk about the girl, the child or that man over there...

    Putting People First
    Disability and Appropriate Language – A Guide
    Why use positive language?
    Language reflects and shapes the way we view the world. The words we use can influence community attitudes - both positively and negatively - and can impact on the lives of others.
    How we write and speak about people with disabilities can have a profound effect on the way they are viewed by the community. Some words, by their very nature, degrade and diminish people with disabilities. Others perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes, removing entirely a person’s individuality and humanity.

    Over the years, people with disabilities have had to endure a variety of labels that serve to set them apart from the rest of the community. Even today, people with disabilities are still identified by their disabling condition – all too often, we hear ‘a paraplegic’ for a person who has a paraplegia; ‘a cerebral palsy sufferer’ for a person with cerebral palsy or ‘a Down syndrome baby’ for a baby with Down syndrome.

    This labelling influences our perceptions by focussing only on one aspect of a person – their disability – and ignores their other roles and attributes, for example they may be also a parent, a lawyer, a musician or a sportsperson.

    This guide aims to promote a fair, accurate and positive portrayal of people with disabilities. “Putting People First” is a simple rule of thumb – acknowledge the person before their disability.

    General guidelines
    · Don’t define a person by their disability. We are all individuals with abilities, desires, interests and problems – some of us happen to have a disability.

    · Avoid focussing unnecessarily on a person’s disability. If it is not necessary to
    acknowledge that a person has a disability, then don’t mention it.

    · Portray people with disabilities positively by recognising what a person can do rather than focussing on their limitations, for example, the person walks with an aid, not that he or she has limited mobility.

    · Recognise that many of the difficulties facing people with a disability are barriers created by community attitudes and the physical environment. We can all help to break down these barriers by using appropriate language – to be labelled in a derogatory way serves only to perpetuate these barriers.

    · Be specific about a person’s circumstances and avoid stereotypes, generalisations and assumptions based on limited information.

    · Avoid any word or phrase that has a negative connotation – for example, ‘confined to a wheelchair’ instead of ‘uses a wheelchair’ – or that implies people with a disability are suffering.

    · Avoid labels; say person with a disability; put the person first and be specific
    Last edited by WorkingClassMum; 20-03-2011, 15:46.

  • #2
    Can we make this a sticky? Thank you WCM for putting in the effort to write it


    • #3
      Just a bump for the evening users


      • #4
        Another bump up


        • #5
          We use what you define as negative words such as limited mobility all the time. Its just not given a second thought in a fast paced and stressing job.

          Interesting article though


          • #6
            Just wanted to say thanks for this awesome thread.

            I have to be honest and say it was something I rarely gave a thought to before by daughter ws born, and diagnosed with Down syndrome. And if I did think about, I would have thought of it in terms of political-correctness-gone-mad.

            BUT, suddenly it's my baby that someone is referring to as a "Down syndrome baby" or "a Down's" (my personal un-favourite). And it makes a big difference.

            My girl is a child with Down syndrome, and I am really appreciative of the people who take the time to refer to her as such.


            • #7
              In light of the other thread about the misuse of dergatry terms, I though I'd just bump this up


              • #8
                Absolutely love that you took the time to post the article and clarify. I work with kids and parents every day seeking behavioural change and language is the first thing I look at. It reflects our learned beliefs and governs our behaviour and is such a simple and effective way to change our less inclusive cultural habits. I also find with my own children it is easy to just let a comment slide, especially when it is the end of the day and perhaps you dont want to have to explain and elaborate on 'why' it is not appropriate... but the time taken when they are keen to listen NOW is worth every second. Thanks again


                • #9
                  Bumping this up for some noobs who may not have seen it


                  • #10
                    That's a really nice guide. Beautiful.

                    I'm no fan of "PC" - but those kind, thoughtful sentiments have nothing to do with PC anyway!