Ashland Supportive Housing

“We support people with disabilities to live a rich, fulfilling and productive life with dignity and respect.”

Food for thought: why it is important to use “person first” language?

A person with disabilities is not defined by their impairment. Nobody wants to be given a medical label. Language plays a critical role in shaping and reflecting our thoughts, beliefs and feelings.

The way we refer to people can affect the way they are seen by others and the way in which they feel about themselves. Most people prefer the term ‘people with disabilities’ because it puts the person first. References such as ‘an autistic’ or ‘a diabetic’ are dehumanizing. Instead, if you need to refer to a person’s condition, say a person who has autism or a person who has diabetes.

Please don’t say things like ‘sufferers from’ or ‘a victim of’, because that suggests people with disabilities are frail or dependent on others, or which could make them objects of pity. Do not use collective nouns such as ‘the disabled’ or ‘the blind’. These terms imply people are part of a group which is somehow separate from the rest of society.