2020 DSS Person First Pledge


Mark Twain said…“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightening and the lightening bug.”

The words we use matter. Person First Language is about respect, dignity, and putting people first instead of their diagnosis/condition. It’s about not letting a person be defined by their diagnosis/condition. People with disabilities make up the largest and most diverse minority in the US. Approximately 67 million Americans (one out of every four individuals) has a disability.

The University of North Alabama’s Disability Support Services Office encourages you to have a greater understanding and acceptance for ALL people regardless of their ability. October is National Disability Awareness Month. Our focus is to encourage all people to use Person First Language:



Instead of:

People with disabilities.

The handicapped or disabled.

He/She has a cognitive disability/diagnosis.

He’s/She’s mentally retarded.

She/He has autism (or a diagnosis of…).

She’s/He’s autistic.

He/She has Down syndrome (or a diagnosis of…).

He’s/She’s Down’s; a mongoloid.

She/He has a learning disability (diagnosis).

She’s/He’s learning disabled.

He/She has a physical disability (diagnosis).

He’s/She’s a quadriplegic/is crippled.

She’s/He’s short stature/a little person.

She’s/He’s a dwarf/midget.

He/She has a mental health condition/diagnosis.

He’s/She’s emotionally disturbed/mentally ill.

She/He uses a wheelchair/mobility chair.

She’s/He’s confined to/is wheelchair-bound.

He/She has a developmental disability.

He’s/She’s in special ed.

Children without disabilities.

Normal or healthy kids.

Congenital disability.

Birth defect.

Brain injury.


Accessible parking, hotel room, etc.

Handicapped parking, hotel room, etc.

Please join us in this movement to promote Person First Language.

I pledge not to use words that might be insulting or hurtful to others. I will not let others be defined by their disability.                                                                                                      

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