"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)