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Person-First

Language:

Dicul@es and Solu@ons with PuBng People First


Casey Primeau, Dr. Lynne Oland, PhD, Dr. Lynne Tomasa, PhD
Methods

Appropriate Language

What words do people with disabili.es


prefer other people to use?

Person-First Language
Examples:

The Language of Disability


Nega@ve
Language

Person with a disability


Person with au.sm
Individual who uses a
wheelchair

Pros:

(Disability Network Southwest Michigan, 2016)

(Liddle, 2003)

Subject: "You want to


say good things and
not bad things.

(Liddle, 2003)

(Green, 2016)

Language that implies suering, pity, or vic.miza.on is considered


nega.ve. There are mul.ple, more empowering techniques used to talk
about disabili.es. Certain disability groups prefer a specic phrasing
technique over others to reference their disabili.es.

Puts a person before a


disability
Emphasizes someones
humanity

Disability-First Language
Examples:
Disabled person
Au.s.c person
Deaf person

Results

Pros:

Disability is seen as

part of iden.ty
Acknowledges
societys marginalizing
role

Cons:

Interviews of people with intellectual and developmental


disabili.es (IDD) were conducted to assess language preference
(n=11). Ques.ons were focused on selec.ng either person-rst
or disability-rst language, framing dierent op.ons within case
scenarios using mul.ple disability types.

Cons:

Lengthy and awkward


May bring undue
gramma.cal ahen.on
to a disability

Use of a strong label


May place too much
strength on disability
as part of who
someone is

Preferences:

Preferences:

Academic journals
Disability
organiza.ons
Legal system

Deaf society
Some au.s.c and
visually impaired
people

References:
Collier, R. (2012). Person-rst language: Noble intent but to what eect? CMAJ: Canadian Medical Associa0on Journal. 184(18). Retrieved from hhp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/ar.cles/PMC3519177/.
Disability rights programming (2016). Disability language and assump.ons workshop [Online image]. Disability Network Southwest Michigan. Retrieved from: hhp://www.dnswm.org/disability-language-assump.ons-workshop/.
Granello, D. H., & Gibbs, T. A. (2016). The power of language and labels: The mentally ill versus people with mental illnesses. Journal of Counseling and Development: 94.
Green, Laura. (2016). Why you should stop saying the r-word [Online image]. Odyssey Online. Retrieved from: hhp://theodysseyonline.com/bridgewater-state/should-stop-saying-word/330481
Liddle, K. (2003). Models of disability [Online image]. Taxi Driver Training Pack. Retrieved from: hhp://www.ddsg.org.uk/taxi/medical-model.html.

Number of subjects
with this preference

How does language aect social aNtudes


about people with disabili.es?

9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0

Disability Language Preferences of


People with IDD
Person-rst
language
Disability-rst
language

Both are
acceptable
Au.sm

Disability

Intellectual
Disability word inserted in scenario Disability

Conclusions
In each scenario, there was a strong preference for person-rst
language. Due to the limita.ons of this study, these results are not
generalizable but may inform a larger future study. Person-rst
language can be used as a default, general language op.on for people
with IDD, while s.ll respec.ng specic individual preferences within
and across disability groups.

Acknowledgements: This work was done in fulllment of an Honors thesis in


Special Educa.on and Rehabilita.on, supported by the Sonoran University Center
for Excellence in Developmental Disabili.es. Advising and guidance from Dr. Lynne
Oland and Dr. Lynne Tomasa made this project possible.

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