One Pager Guidelines for Communicating About People with

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OFFICE OF VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION
1521 NORTH SIXTH STREET
HARRISBURG,
LABOR AND INDUSTRY
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
PA 17102
800-442-6351 • 800-233-3008 TIY • www.state.pa.us PA Keyword: "Disability Services"
G UIDE L I N ES
FOR COMMUNICATING ABOUT PEOPLE WITH
DISABILITIES
TAKEN FROM A BROCHURE PRODUCED BY
THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
1.
Do not refer at all to a disability unless it is crucial
2.
Do not sensationalize a disability by saying ''victim of," "afflicted with," and so on.
Instead say "person who has multiple sclerosis," "people who had polio."
3.
Avoid using emotional descriptions. Say "uses a wheelchair" rather than
"confined to a wheelchair", "walks with crutches" rather than "is crippled. "
4.
Avoid labeling people into groups, as in "the disabled," "the deaf," "a paraplegic."
Instead say "people with disabilities," ' people who are deaf," "a man who has
paraplegia." (Note especially that the word "disabled" is an adjective, not a
noun.)
5.
Avoid portraying people with disabilities who succeed as remarkable or
superhuman. This implies that it is unusual for people with disabilities to have
talents or skills.
·6.
Avoid using the word "special" in regard to disability, as in "special entrance" or
"special transportation." Instead say "accessible entrance" and "fin-equipped
buses." The word "special serves only to segregate rather than to integrate
people with disabilities.
7.
Avoid putting disability issues into a medical context. The overwhelming
majority of people with disabilities are not sick. Words like "patient," "case,"
and "invalid" should not be used. Most current disabilities issues concern civil
rights, education, accessibility, and so on.
8.
Avoid using an overly familiar tone in referring to people with disabilities. A person
- - with a disability deserves the same courtesy of address and reference as a
nondisabled person. (For example, they are often "first-named," whereas
nondisabled people in similar contexts are not)
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