Inclusive Language: Putting the Person First

People jumping
People jumping

Imagine that you have a disability.  You also think of yourself as an artist, a brother, a pizza lover, and a table tennis champion.  Your disability does not define who you are.  Unfortunately, labels are often placed on people with disabilities and they can carry negative connotations.  Saying that someone is “handicapped” immediately lumps them into a vague category that suggests huge limitations. At Easter Seals Crossroads, we encourage People First Language.  Here are some examples:

Acceptable Term:

Instead of:

She has autism.

She’s autistic.

He has a disability.

He’s handicapped.

He uses a wheelchair.

He’s wheelchair bound.

She has a brain injury.

She’s brain damaged.

He has a cognitive disability.

He’s mentally retarded.

She receives special ed services.

She’s a special ed kid.

As you can see, People First Language puts emphasis on the person you are talking about, not their disability.  This promotes respectful language to use when addressing people who happen to have disabilities.

For more information and examples, visit Disability is Natural.