Don’t Forget! Use People First Language
People First Language refers to the language our society uses to refer to people with disabilities. This Language places emphasis where it should be, on the person and not the disability. People with disabilities, moreover our students with disabilities, are- first and foremost- people, who have individual abilities, likes, dislikes and needs. Their contributions, no matter how small or great, enrich our schools and classrooms. As a result, we must always be mindful to respect them as individuals and not think of them as their disability and model that mindset for them and students without disabilities.
Look at this example.
People First Language says: Instead of:
People with disabilities are great. Disabled people are great.
(For more examples of People First Language, see below)
It’s a small difference that makes a world of difference. We must remember the word, disability, is an adjective that describes a medical diagnosis. People First Language humbly puts the person before the disability. Most of us have been guilty of putting the emphasis on the disability instead of the person.
I recently read an article titled, “Can special education students keep up with the Common Core?” It didn’t dawn on me until I had finished the article and read several comments until I got to the following comment:
“Please do not use the phrase “special education students”. This term is disrespectful. In 1990, the IDEA stated we should use person-first language such as students with disabilities or students with special needs. Thanks!”
OUCH! How could I, of all people, have over looked that? In fact, I learned about that in college and have, for years, been very conscious of using People First Language verbally and in the written language. So, if I needed to revisit the importance of People First Language then I am sure a few of my fellow educators and parents may need to as well.
If you are not using People First Language, make sure you start today. Pass this on to other people for a reminder. Remember, Parents and Teachers who care, share and