People First Language

Do you foster #inclusivity and #acceptance to the family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers and colleagues in your life who have a disability?  Do you see the person, not the label?

Do you know the distinction between a disability and a handicap?

PEOPLE FIRST language is the appropriate way of addressing or referencing a person with a disability that quite simply, recognizes the PERSON FIRST, not the disability.  Even the most conscientious caretakers can unknowingly use language that could be hurtful and disrespectful to people with disabilities. 

A disability is a condition caused by an accident, trauma, genetics or disease which may limit a person’s mobility, hearing, vision, speech or mental function. 

handicap is a barrier or circumstance that makes progress or success difficult, regardless of whether the person has a disability.

When writing or speaking about people with disabilities it is important to put the person first. Catch-all phrases such as, the blind, the deaf or the disabled, do not reflect the individuality, equality or dignity of people with disabilities.  In short, the disability never becomes a noun.

Below are some examples of PEOPLE FIRST language to use when describing, speaking or writing about people with disabilities.  You don’t need to worry about saying something incorrectly when you just remember to put PEOPLE OR PERSON FIRST.

  • Person with a disability or persons with disabilities NOT disabled
  • Person who uses a wheelchair NOT wheelchair-bound or confined to a wheelchair
  • Person who has Down Syndrome NOT Down’s person
  • Person with a physical disability NOT a cripple
  • Person who uses a communication device NOT a mute

A person or group of people with a disability should never be referred to as “disabled” but instead “a person with disabilities.”  Similarly, a person or group without a disability should be defined simply as, “person without a disability” — not as “normal”, “healthy” or “typical”. 

Watch this short piece provided by WBNS 10tv to learn more:

Share this information with people you know —we all know someone with a disability.

It matters to us.

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