Inclusive Language for Disability: How & Why?
written by Casey Wise, published on Wordfinderx
In a constantly changing world with exterior forces that seem to pull us apart, the concepts of inclusivity and offense are being brought more into the light. It’s more important than ever to be kind, show respect, and treat people how we want to be treated, particularly in the world of differently-abled people. ‘Offense’ is a word that seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days. What can I say, what can’t I say? In this article, we will talk about the various ways you can change your speech, adapt your views, and sympathize more with those with disabilities. Whether the information we share changes your views or not, we hope you learn something about inclusive language.
The first step towards inclusivity when talking about those with disabilities is treating human beings like human beings. This may seem logical or obvious, but a lot of the speech we use excludes or wrongly highlights differently-abled people. The ‘people-first’ approach to inclusivity is what the UN puts first on its definitive guideline list. Examples of this are:
- ‘Students with dyslexia,’ rather than ‘Dyslexic students’
- ‘Children with albinism,’ rather than ‘Albino children’
- ‘People with intellectual disabilities,’ rather than ‘Intellectually disabled people’
As these examples show, it’s important to put the person, the human being, first instead of the disabilities, conditions, or illnesses they have. The UN also makes a great suggestion in their listing; ‘If in doubt, you should ask the person or group how they choose to identify. Indeed, persons with disabilities are not a homogeneous group, and they may self-identify in various ways.’ This should be the golden rule when talking about differently-abled people; if in doubt, ask the group or person you are talking to.