Putting People First
It can sometimes be confusing to know the 'correct' way to describe a person with a disability.
Here at A Brighter Future, we feel it's important to remember that a child with Cerebral Palsy is a child first. Of course, all people with disabilities are people first - with individual abilities, interests and needs.
There's no need to stereotype anyone into 'being' a condition that they may have - the CP boy, the autistic girl. Instead: the boy with CP, the girl with Autism. This is People First Language - it puts the person before the disability, and describes what a person has, not who a person is.
People with disabilities are often wrongly described in the media as "suffering" from a disability, or as being "confined" to a wheelchair. In truth, wheelchairs give their users mobility, they do not confine. And individuals with disabilities generally do not 'suffer' from their disability, but rather from society's attitudes towards them.
There are terms considered to be disability descriptors that should never be used in ordinary conversation, such as "retarded" or "spastic". These words and their variations are hurtful to many when used as insults. A Brighter Future is working to eliminate the pejorative use of such words in everyday language. Historically, we have seen the elimination of other negative stigmatising words through education campaigns and societal pressure.
A Brighter Future intends to reach out to educate and build awareness of the positive power of the right words through schools, parents, and young people, and promote People First Language. Most importantly, we wish to promote dignity, acceptance and inclusion for children and adults with disabilities within the community.
More about People First Language can be read here: www.disabilityisnatural.com/images/PDF/pfl09.pdf (used with permission). We highly recommend you visit www.disabilityisnatural.com for further information on this topic.