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Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

"Words That Define People By Disability Demean Them"

February 18, 2003

CINCINNATI, OHIO--Deborah Kendrick recently read a new book, in which one character has a disability, uses a walker and support cane.

What made Kendrick shudder were the repeated references to the person as a "cripple".

"This isn't hypersensitivity. It's pragmatism," Kendrick wrote in her column for the Cincinnati Enquirer. "The words we use to label others send instant visual images, particularly when we use a defining term as the noun."

"If we talk about, write about, think about all people as people, more positive attitudes will follow. A person is not equal to the disability. A person has a disability. In other words, a child has autism or mental retardation or dyslexia or a hearing impairment. An adult might have cerebral palsy, a personality disorder, arthritis or a spinal cord injury."

"Only when it becomes intuitive for us to talk about people as people, and incorporate their physical or mental disabilities as ingredients, characteristics that contribute to but do not constitute the whole person, can we actually see people with disabilities as equal players."

"Words that define people by disability demean them" (Cincinnati Enquirer)
"People First Language" by Kathie Snow (Disability Is Natural)


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The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center,the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.