This Tip of the Month is short and sweet, but extremely important! Simply altering the way we talk about people can have a powerful, rippling effect. Make a conscious effort to consistently use person-first language.
Using person-first language is not only politically correct, it shows good manners, respect and most importantly, it can change the way we view a person, which can change the way a person views his or herself!
Person-first language puts the focus on the person and not on their disability and shifts our thinking from focusing on what is ‘wrong’ with the person. It can help teachers, therapists, family members and members of the community remember they are interacting with a person who has dignity, feelings and rights.
However, some people with disabilities and communities of people with disabilities have their own preferences about how their disability is discussed. For example, in some communities of the deaf, members would prefer it be said “He’s deaf,” rather than “He has deafness.” Additionally, in some communities of the blind, members would prefer it be said “She is blind,” rather than “She has blindness.” When in doubt, listen to how members refer to themselves or ask a member of that community.
How to alter the way you speak:
Use statements like these:
Sylia has ADHD
John has a learning disability in math
The children with autism
A boy with autism
Adults with disabilities
That autistic boy
Handicapped, special needs, disabled