People First Language
Unfortunately, people too often use language that may be demeaning, misguided or even name calling in nature, when speaking of someone with a disability, whether this is intended or not. Nevertheless, such behavior reflects ignorance, lack of familiarity and fear. For individuals with developmental disabilities, the name calling often takes the form of referring to them by their disability. Instead, one should refer to the person first, and then note the disability as only one aspect of that person.
State Statutes Now Reflect People First Language
Research reveals a dramatic increase in the use of People First language in state statutes, a result of the state law passed in 2009 requiring the use of respectful wording. (full details)
Some 23 objectionable phrases that had been used to describe people with intellectual or developmental disabilities were tracked and thousands of such references were removed. An examination of the statutes at the time of passage and again this fall revealed the progress made.
Some Useful Resources:
People First (now available in Spanish): The new brochure “We have not met just yet, but... I’m Your Neighbor” provides useful tips for recognizing and speaking in ways that acknowledge the person before their disability. The 2010 People First booklet can be ordered or downloaded pdf / word (English), pdf / word (Spanish)
Glossary: A glossary of terms relating to People First language that can be used for reference.
These brochures can be ordered from the Council office by contacting Cora Gibson at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling her at the Council office, 919-850-2901.