Simply put, person-first language is a way of talking with or about disability that focuses on the person first and the disability second, if at all. It’s easy! And it makes a difference in effectively connecting with your co-workers and employees who have disabilities.
Sometimes it’s called People First Language. It’s about dropping words like “retard”, “handicapped” and “disabled”, and using “people with disabilities” instead. It’s about making the shift from saying “wheelchair-bound” to saying “person who uses a wheelchair”. It’s about shifting our mindsets to putting people first.
In a survey of 627 workers who built person-first language skills at a recent Disability Awareness Training, 92% said they will use newly learned person-first language in their workplace. “Awesome! I think having the training done by individuals with first-person experience is so valuable,” said a trainee at Aurora Regional Fire Museum. “The examples of the person-first language will stick with me because it’s important to respect all people,” said a trainee at Lake View High School.
March was a busy month for teaching staff of companies and organizations how to use person-first language skills. The Disability Awareness Players went to eight different locations in the Chicago area, including several schools and repeat Trainings for two organizations. The Players also worked for the first time with professors at Truman Community College in
Chicago, which was our first time training an institution of higher education. Another unique opportunity for us was a trip to Peoria, Illinois to train fire safety instructors and inspectors from all over the state during the Illinois Fire Safety Alliance convention.
We look forward to continuing to train businesses and organizations how to be disability aware!