WHAT IS PEOPLE FIRST LANGUAGE?
People First Language (PFL) was developed to respectfully speak about people with disabilities. The number one focus of PFL is putting the
person before his/her disability because the disability is only a small part of the whole person. PFL highlights a person’s strengths, abilities
and potential to succeed instead of labeling the individual or confining the person to an established stereotype.
Remember: concentrate on the person, not the disability!
Say: Instead of:
|Children (or people) with disabilities||the disabled, the handicapped|
|He has a disability||he’s disabled; he’s handicapped|
|She has a cognitive disability||my daughter is retarded|
|People with cognitive disabilities||the (mentally) retarded|
|She has Down syndrome||she’s Down’s; she’s mongoloid|
|My son has autism||my son is autistic|
|He has a learning disability||he’s learning disabled; he’s LD|
|She has a physical disability||she’s a quadriplegic or a cripple|
|My son has a physical disability||my son is disabled|
|She is of short stature||she’s a dwarf|
|She has an emotional disability||she’s emotionally disturbed|
|He uses a wheelchair (or mobility chair)||he’s confined to a wheelchair he’s wheelchair bound|
|Typical children; kids without disabilities||normal kids or healthy kids|
|He receives special ed services||he’s in special ed|
|He needs behavior supports||he has behavior problems|
|He has a brain injury||He’s brain damaged|
|Accessible parking/bathroom||handicapped parking/bathroom|
|She needs… She uses…||she has a problem with… she can’t|