Person-First Language: Difficulties and Solutions with Putting People First
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractPerson-first language is often labeled as the gold-standard method for writing about and addressing people who have disabilities. The goal of person-first language is to put a person before their disability and emphasize other aspects of who a person is beyond their disability. This goal offers a more appropriate option in lieu of using some of the insensitive and offensive terminology that often has been used to describe individuals with disabilities. Though thought of as a neutral and respectful method of referencing individuals with disabilities, there are still many flaws and objections to its use. A different method, disability-first language, involves calling someone a “disabled person” rather than a “person with a disability.” This method of reference contends with person-first language as many people with disabilities feel that it reflects the fact that their impairment is part of who they are. Preference between person-first and disability-first language varies across disability groups. The debate remains whether people should opt to use person-first language or disability-first language. No preference has been documented yet amongst people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, but interviews conducted in this study show that person-first language might be an appropriate option to use in general with this population.
Degree ProgramHonors College
Special Education and Rehabilitation