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Do the words used to describe you have an impact on your life? You bet! Contrary to the age-old "sticks and stones" lesson we learned as children, words do matter!

For too long, people who happen to have conditions we call "disabilities" have been subjected to devaluation, marginalization, prejudice, and more. And the first way to devalue someone is through language, by using words or labels to identify a person/group as "less-than," as "the others—not like us," and so forth. Once a person/group has been identified this way, it makes it easier to justify prejudice and discrimination. Our language shapes our attitudes; our attitudes shape our language; they're intertwined. And our attitudes and language drive our actions!

Using People First Language—putting the person before the disability—and eliminating old, prejudicial, and hurtful descriptors, can move us in a new direction. People First Language is not political correctness; instead, it demonstrates good manners, respect, the Golden Rule, and more—it can change the way we see a person, and it can change the way a person sees herself!

See the People First Language articles below.

And check out the Your Stories section for valuable real-life experiences!

Looking for a specific article?
Click here to go to the Explore/Home page;
midway down the page you'll find an alphabetical listing of all articles.

Enjoy these new ways of thinking!


People First Language Article
Words are powerful and they can hurt! Other civil rights movements generated changes toward more respectful and accurate language and attitudes; the Disability Rights Movement is doing the same, beginning with People First Language. (This is the 4-page version, with examples.)

People First Language (Spanish) - Thanks to Linda Schumacher, The Institute for Education and Professional Development, for this translation.
People First Language (Portuguese) - Thanks to Linda Schumacher, The Institute for Education and Professional Development, for this translation.
People First Language (Russian) - Thanks to Susan Fox, Institute on Disability,
University of New Hampshire, for this translation.

Take the Pledge!

Are you ready to make a difference? Read one of the People First Language articles on this page, then take the People First Language Pledge. Students, parents, educators, healthcare/ service providers, and anyone else can take the Pledge and help create a more welcoming, inclusive society for all!

Click here for the Pledge (pdf).

Make copies of the Pledge to share with others in your school or organization; share with family and friends; or distribute at IEP, IHP, or other team meetings!


Thanks to Cherese Jenks, an extraordinary parent from Virginia, for the idea for the Pledge. Cherese is also working to ensure Disability History is taught in our public schools. Click here to support the cause!

A Few Words About People First Language
This "short" (one-page) version of Kathie's People First Language article includes the basics, along with a chart of examples.

People First Language Chart
These examples of People First Language can help us embrace more respectful and accurate language about people who happen to have disabilities.

Same and Different: Respect for All (for Children)
When we help children learn that we're all the same, but we're also all different, we can eliminate prejudice early! This document includes a two-page article for children, plus suggestions and ideas for use by teachers and parents.

The Case Against "Special Needs"
Like other words in Disability World, this term is so commonly used we seldom think about what it means. Have you considered that it promotes pity, negative attitudes, and segregation? It's time to throw this descriptor into the junk heap!


Discover other valuable articles

and helpful information on these pages.

Newsletter Library

Your Stories

New Attitudes

Language and Communication

Strategies for All




©2009-13 Kathie Snow,

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