Person-First Language (PFL) is a style of communication that demonstrates respect for people with disabilities by recognizing them as a person first instead of describing them as their disability. Attention to this language helps to eliminate stereotypes and prejudicial language. Chris Martin, Director of Workforce for Soar365 was involved in the early days of advocating for person-first language. The MPower Me team sat down with Chris recently to reflect on the importance of PFL and how it continues to contribute to human rights today.

“Person-First language puts a person’s strengths and positive attributes before their disability,” says Chris Martin. Using careful word choices that describe the person, not their condition puts the focus on the unique attributes of the individual instead of defining them by their condition and enables a more accurate portrayal of who they are. PFL reduces generalizations, assumptions, and stereotypes by focusing on the person rather than the disability. “We should be treating this person as a person and not try to create rules to follow just because they have a disability,” says Martin. 

Examples of person-first language:

Do NOT use…            Instead, use Person-first language
Diabetic            Person with diabetes
Handicapped            Person with disabilities
Mentally retarded             Person with developmental disabilities

Person-first language is important to us at MPower Me as it aligns with our values. MyGuide gives everyone the opportunity to decide for themselves how their technology is set up, the way their guides are designed, and who has access to their MyGuide. This puts the MyGuide user in control of their technology, including who can access it and how they use it to interact with their world. 

Learn more about PFL and National Human Rights Month on MPower Me’s blog

Categories: MPower Me


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