Have you ever thought about how much weight words have in the way you see reality?
Language, like the way we see the world, is something that is constantly changing and it is important to pay attention to how this affects our thinking and attitude towards others.
If we wish to have a more inclusive society, it is important to train the mind for more inclusive terminology as well.
It is not always easy to know what is ‘correct’ to use, especially in the area of disabilities.
Fortunately, guidelines have been created to help us understand some terms and know how to use them properly.
The guide was developed by the National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and was last updated in the summer of 2021. The guide is available in different languages.
Another important topic in the language field is the people/person-first language approach.
Person-first language is often considered the most respectful way to talk about disabilities and differences. It places the focus on the individual. For example, someone might say, “they’re ADHD” to describe a child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Using person-first language, this would change to “the child who has ADHD.”
It may understandably take some time and effort to get used to using person-first language, but the effort is worth it. Speaking and writing this way communicates that you define an individual by their whole person, not their disability.
It also conveys that you understand that someone is living with an issue—not that their disability or difference is their whole life.