People First Language
By Rebecca Hasman (A member of the Self-Advocacy Alliance)
People-First Language is the kind of language that is respectful to people with disabilities. It encourages everyone to put the person first before their disability. People-First Language is what a person has, not what a person is. When we use People-First Language we stop using words that are offensive; Handicapped, Crippled, Retarded, etc, and replace them with words that are more respectful. People-First is all about dignity and respect!
Here is a list of words and phrases of what you should and should not use when you talk about people with disabilities:
Use any of these phrases: People with disabilities/People with different gifts/People with different capabilities/People with different needs/People with different abilities.
Instead of: The handicapped/People with handicaps/The disabled/People with special needs/People with challenges.
Use the word: Epilepsy.
Instead of: Epileptic.
Use the word: Down syndrome.
Instead of: Down's person/Mongoloid.
Use any of these phrases: Cognitive Disability/Intellectual Disability/Mental Disability.
Instead of: Mentally Retarded/Mentally Disabled/Mental Retardation/MR/Mentally Challenged/Retarded/Mentally Handicapped/Mentally Deficient.
Use any of these phrases: Congenital Disability/Congenital Impairment/Congenital Abnormality/Genetic Disorder.
Instead of: Birth Defect/Brain Damaged.
Use the word or phrase: Hyperactivity/Acts hyper.
Instead of: Hyperactive/Hyper.
Use any of these words: Developmental Disability/Developmental Delay.
Instead of: Developmentally Disabled.
Use the word: autism.
Instead of: autistic.
Use the word/phrase: Deafblindness.
Instead of: Deaf, dumb, blind, and mute.
Use the word: Learning Disability.
Instead of: Learning Disabled/LD.
Use the word: Physical Disability.
Instead of: Lame/Crippled/Spastic/Physically Disabled.
Use any of these phrases: Wheelchair Accessible or Reserved parking, van, hotel room, bathroom.
Instead of: Handicapped parking, van, hotel room, bathroom.
Use any of these phrases: Uses a wheelchair or a motor chair.
Instead of: Wheelchair-bound/Confined to a wheelchair.
Use any of these phrases: Uses a communication device or Sign Language/Communicates with eyes.
Instead of: Nonverbal/Mute/Doesn't speak or talk.
Use any of these phrases: Needs behavior supports/Needs a communication tool/Follows a different kind of diet.
Instead of: Has behavior problems/Has challenges/Can't talk/Follows a Special Diet.
Use the word: Paraplegia.
Instead of: Paraplegic.
Use the word: Quadriplegia.
Instead of: Quadriplegic.
Use the word: Visual Impairment.
Use the phrase: Has a disability (diagnosis of)
Instead of: Suffers from (diagnosis of)/Struggles with (diagnosis of)/Is a victim of (diagnosis of)/Has a disease (diagnosis of.)
Use any of these phrases: Hard of Hearing/Hearing Loss.
Instead of: Deaf.
Use the phrase: Multiple Disabilities.
Instead of: Multiply Disabled.
Use any of these phrases: People without disabilities/Neurotypicals/Typical people.
Instead of: Healthy people/Regular people/Normal people.
Use any of these phrases: Mental Illness/Mental Disorder.
Instead of: Emotionally Disturbed/Has emotional problems/Suffers from a Mental Illness.
Use the phrase: Receives special ed services/Special Education services.
Instead of: Special ed kid/student.
Use any of these phrases: Little person/Short Stature/Dwarfism.
Instead of: Midget/Dwarf.
Use any of these phrases: Citizen/Individual/Customer.
Instead of: Client/Recipient/Consumer.
Use the phrase: Successful, productive member of society.
Instead of: Overcame the disability/afflicted by the disability.
Use the phrase: Arc of Monroe.
Instead of: A-R-C/Association for Retarded Citizens.
Use the phrase: Become more Interdependent.
Instead of: Become more Independent.