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An Essay On Proper Language, Speaking To Or Reffering To People With Disabilitys

1019 words - 4 pages

Proper LanguageWords like "handicapped," "wheelchairbound" and "polio victim" may sound neutral or sympathetic, but people with disabilities find them patronizing and offensive. The language people and news organizations use can reinforce negative stereotypes and misconceptions. Or, they can help change attitudes toward people with disabilities by describing them and their conditions accurately.Below are six general rules for writing or talking about people with disabilities, followed by tips on interacting and a short glossary of outdated terms and suggested alternatives. Many of the new terms are slightly longer, but using them will help avoid being perceived as insensitive or "behind the times."PEOPLE WITH DISABILTIES"Handicapped" has a negative connotation for many people, so most social service agencies and news organizations now use "person with a disability." Handicap describes a condition or barrier caused by society or the environment, i.e., "She is handicapped by inaccessible transportation," or "stairs are a handicap to him."PERSON FIRSTThe person precedes the disability, both figuratively and literally. It's "people with disabilities," not "disabled persons," and "person with cerebral palsy," not "cerebral palsy victim".AVOID PITYPeople with disabilities aren't "victims". As one woman who uses a wheelchair noted, "I'm not a wheelchair victim. Wheelchair victims are the people I bump into with my footrest at the supermarket." Nor should people be described as "inspirational" or "courageous" just beecause they have a disability.ADJECTIVES AREN'T NOUNSUse an adjective as a description, not a category or group, i.e., "people who are disabled," not "the disabled," and "person with epilepsy," not "an epileptic."AVOID BEING CUTETerms like "physically challenged", "special", and "differently- abled" are patronizing. If appropriate, note that a person has a physical, sensory or mental impairment and leave it at that. Also, people without disabilities aren't "normal", because that infers that people with disabilities are abnormal. Rather, they are "non-disabled" or "able-bodied".GERMANENESSPeople with disabilities should be treated just like everyone else. You wouldn't mention the physical condition of a non- disabled person unless it was germane to the conversation or story, so unless the person's disability is relevant, leave it out.INTERACTING WITH PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIESWhen introduced to a person with a disability, it is polite to shake hands. Most people with limited use of their hands, or artificial limbs, can shake hands. If you're not sure, let the other person make the first move.Adults should be treated as adults. The presence of a physical impairment does not necessarily mean someone has a mental impairment as well. So treat people with disabilities with the same respect you treat others; speak directly to them instead of to a companion or interpreter who may be along and leave the baby talk for babies.Common expressions such as...

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