The language we use, and the images that we create and promote through that language, reflect the attitudes we have towards any particular group of people. Our language is picked up and evaluated by others around us. The words and phrases that are preferred show respect for the dignity of people with disabilities. Some describe this as "people-first" language where the individual is recognized as a person first, then further defined in terms of their characteristic, disability, or functional limitation (i.e. person who is deaf); likewise, services and programs do not have disabilities, but they are provided for people who do.
These words and expressions are currently preferred and reflect a positive attitude. Some language is "trendy" and meanings may vary depending on context or locale.
Again, the ideal is to incorporate these words into our language in a way that expresses the dignity of the person.
Language should accurately portray an individual or situation. It should emphasize the person rather than the disability.
Donšt say. . . "A large bank in Southern California modified its building for its handicapped employees and customers. Subsequently, the bank initiated an on-the-job managerial training program which included afflicted college seniors. Participants included those stricken with various conditions."
But instead say . . . "A large bank in Southern California modified its building for its employees and customers with disabilities. Subsequently, the bank initiated an on-the-job managerial training program which included college seniors with disabilities. Participants included individuals who had either cerebral palsy, psychological/emotional disability, or a hearing impairment."
Not all people with disabilities agree on which language or terminology is preferred like any other large, yet identifiable group of people. Individuals will vary as to how they refer to themselves and how they refer to them. The suggestions given above will apply to most people and be correct in most situations.