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People First Language


Examples Of People First Language


Labels NOT to Use People First Language
The handicapped or disabled People with disabilities
The mentally retarded People with mental retardation
He’s retarded He has a cognitive disability
My son is autistic My son has autism
She’s a Downs kid, a mongoloid She has Down syndrome
He’s learning disabled He has a learning disability
I’m a paraplegic I have paraplegia
She’s crippled She has a physical disability
He’s a dwarf (or midget) He’s of short stature, or he’s short
She’s emotionally disturbed She has an emotional disability
He’s wheelchair bound, or confined to a wheelchair He uses a wheelchair
Normal and/or healthy kids Typical kids or kids without disabilities
He’s in special ed He receives special ed services or additional support services
Handicapped parking, bathrooms, etc. Accessible parking, bathrooms, etc.
She has a problem with… She has a need for…
He’s a diabetic He has diabetes
She’s an epileptic She has epilepsy

Keep thinking.
There are lots more examples out there.
And practice, practice, practice.
Old habits die hard!



People First Language puts the Person before the Disability.


The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightening and the lightening bug. 
-Mark Twain


Who are people with disabilities? 

Historical and current myths tell us they are:
•    People who suffer from the tragedy of birth defects
•    Paraplegic heroes who struggle to become normal again
•    Victims of diseases fighting to regain their previous lives
•    Categorically the crippled, the retarded, the autistic, the blind, the deaf, the learning disabled.

Who are they really?

Neighbors, friends, employees, students, leaders, movie stars, followers, teachers, moms, dads, sons, daughters, beauty pageant winners,
they are…….people.  They are People.

Are you myopic or do you wear glasses?
Are you cancerous or do you have cancer?
Are you freckled or do you have freckles?
Are you handicapped/disabled or do you have a disability?

People First Language says
what a person HAS not what a Person IS




Written by Kathie Snow -

Click here to view and/or print this information as a PDF.

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Jefferson County Jefferson County Public Health
615 Sheridan Street - Port Townsend, WA 98368
Community Health: 360.385.9400 | Environmental Health: 360.385.9444