Words Matter

Student Printz, a student publication at the University of Southern Mississippi, recently published an article about people-first language in response to feedback it had received regarding a previous article. This article had referred to a person using "disabled" as an adjective and also said that he "suffered" from his disabilities.  

People-first language, as described by the Association for the Rights of Citizens with Developmental Disabilities, "puts the person before the disability, and describes what a person has, not who a person is." The intent of adopting person-first language is to put emphasis on the person rather than making the disability the primary focus. Mentioning the person first can help keep focus on humanity and strengths. 

Thoughtful word choice can help to fight societal stereotypes that people with disabilities are either victims or heroes and should be pitied or admired. Language can perpetuate attitudes and influence feelings and actions, and conversations about language can promote learning and respect. 

All human beings are people before they are anything else. Emphasizing the shared experience of humanity in our speech and writing can help us to be more inclusive. Student Printz was bold in apologizing for its mistake and advocating for inclusive language.

Read the full article here