Disability Etiquette Matters

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A great place to start is a conversation. Keep this quick tips in mind: Language matters Always use person-first language. It may take a little longer for them to communicate — stop and take the time. Others may use gestures to communicate. Talk to everyone in the room. These are parts of our everyday language.

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Non-profit organizations, such as the Obesity Action Coalition have expanded advocacy for People-First Language to obesity. As of , 5 U. The most common alternative to person-first language is usually called identity-first language, as it places the identifying condition before the personal term. For example, while someone who prefers person-first language might ask to be called a "person with autism", someone who prefers identity-first language would ask to be called an "autistic person".

Others have proposed "person-centered language", which, instead of being a replacement linguistic rule, promotes prioritizing the preferences of those who are being referred to and argues for greater nuance in the language used to describe people and groups of people. The Sapir—Whorf hypothesis is the basis for ideologically motivated linguistic prescriptivism. The hypothesis states that language use significantly shapes perceptions of the world and forms ideological preconceptions.

In people-first language, preconceptions judged to be negative arise from placing the name of the condition before the term "person" or "people", such as "white person" or "Jewish people". Proponents of people-first language argue that this places an undue focus on the condition which distracts from the humanity of the members of the community of people with the condition.

Disability Etiquette Matters

In a publication about an experiment on teen's perception of people with disabilities, scientists gathered evidence to prove why people-first language, or word order, matters. Some U. As of , the rules of people-first language have become normative in US governmental institutions on the federal e. Critics have objected that people-first language is awkward, repetitive and makes for tiresome writing and reading.

Edwin Vaughan, a sociologist and longtime activist for the blind, argues that since "in common usage positive pronouns usually precede nouns", "the awkwardness of the preferred language focuses on the disability in a new and potentially negative way". According to Vaughan, it only serves to "focus on disability in an ungainly new way" and "calls attention to a person as having some type of 'marred identity ' " in terms of Erving Goffman 's theory of identity.

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In , the National Federation of the Blind adopted a resolution condemning people-first language. The resolution dismissed the notion that "the word 'person' must invariably precede the word 'blind' to emphasize the fact that a blind person is first and foremost a person" as "totally unacceptable and pernicious" and resulting in the exact opposite of its purported aim, since "it is overly defensive, implies shame instead of true equality, and portrays the blind as touchy and belligerent".

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In deaf culture , person-first language has long been rejected. Instead, deaf culture uses deaf-first language since being culturally deaf is a source of positive identity and pride. Autism activist Jim Sinclair rejects person-first language, on the grounds that saying "person with autism" suggests that autism can be separated from the person.


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  • One of those organizations, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network , has this to say on the issue:. It is impossible to affirm the value and worth of an Autistic person without recognizing his or her identity as an Autistic person. We affirm that the person has value and worth, and that autism is entirely separate from what gives him or her value and worth. This is not, however, a rejection of the principles of person-first language: rather, it is a rejection of the assumption that autism is an affliction.

    We do not take care to avoid a term like "winner", separating the person from the winning with "person who has won", because winning is not regarded as a negative that should be untangled from someone's identity. The argument quoted above treats autism similarly: it is not a negative to be untangled from an autistic person's identity; therefore the use of person-first language is misguided in this particular context.

    Person-first language aims to separate disabilities and other negative characteristics from people: this intention to be respectful may backfire if it demonstrates that the person writing or speaking regards the characteristic negatively when the person being described does not. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Disability-related linguistic prescription. This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Theory and models. Physical Occupational Speech.

    Societal implications. Disability rights movement Inclusion Normalization People-first language Pejorative terms. Personal assistance.

    Disability Etiquette Matters

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    • Disabled sports. Disability in the arts Disability art Disability in the media. Disability Lists. Main articles: Linguistic prescriptivism and Language and thought. Language and HIV communication. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Archived from the original on May 11, Radical Copyeditor. Retrieved July 5, United Spinal Association.