I am Disabled: On Identity-First Versus People-First Language

March 20, 2015 by Cara Liebowitz
In the United States, a linguistic movement has taken hold. People-first language is considered by many to be the most respectful and appropriate way to refer to those who were once called disabledhandicapped, or even crippled. Instead of disabled person, we are urged to say person with a disability. Instead of autistic person, we should say person with autism. And so on and so forth. I think you get the picture. The idea is to See the person first or See the person – not the disability!

I can understand where the impulse to use people-first language comes from. After all, I don’t want to be identified solely on the basis of my disabilities. If I had to choose between the two, I’d much rather be known as That loudmouth who never shuts up in class than That girl with the walker. (As an aside, the proper way to say that is That girl who uses a walker. It makes it sound much less like my walker is just attached to me and follows me around.) I want people to see me as a whole person, not just a disabled person. (Find the complete article on the web here.)

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