3 Person First Language

When I was in Physical Therapy school at OSU, I had an instructor tell us that we have to be careful not to refer to the patient by their condition. That is, you wouldn’t want to say, “I have my hip replacement coming at 1 o’clock.” Instead you might tell your supervisor or fellow physical therapist, “I have Mrs. M coming at 1 o’clock for her hip replacement therapy.” Likewise, when we have a student with a disability, such as blindness, we would refer to them as a person who is blind. For example, if I were to approach our Office of Disability Services, I would say, “I need help with making accommodations for a student in my course who is blind,” instead of “I need help with making accommodations for a blind student in my course.”

The Center for Disease Control has a helpful chart of people first language and language to avoid. They’ve put this language in a poster called Communicating With and About People With Disabilities (visit: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/pdf/disabilityposter_photos.pdf).


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