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Guidelines on language about disability

From: Jamal Mazrui <empower@smart.net>
Date: Thu, 01 Oct 1998 11:43:07 +0400
Message-Id: <199810011542.LAA24119@gemini.smart.net>
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
CC: <kynn@idyllmtn.com>
Given the recent discussion on this topic, I thought the document 
below may be helpful.

Regards,
Jamal

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From the web page http://www.lsi.ukans.edu/rtcil/guidelin.htm

GUIDELINES FOR REPORTING AND WRITING ABOUT 
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES. 

Copyright 1996, FIFTH EDITION

This web page contains partial information on the "Guidelines."

For a complimentary brochure with the complete list, please send
a stamped self-addressed envelope to RTC/IL Publications,
University of Kansas, 4089 Dole Bldg., Lawrence, KS, 66045. The
"Guidelines" are available in large print, braille, and Spanish.)

[$.35 per brochure 1-100 (brochures) plus S & H; $.30 per
brochure 101-1000 (brochures) plus S & H; $.27 per brochure for
orders of 1001 or more plus S & H]

Here is a set of clear guidelines to help you make better
choices in terms of language and portrayal. The "Guidelines"
explain preferred terminology and offer suggestions for
appropriate ways to describe people with disabilities. They
reflect input from over 100 national disability organizations
and have been reviewed and endorsed by media and disability
experts throughout the country. Although opinions may differ on
some terms, the "Guidelines" represent the current consensus
among disability organizations. Portions of the "Guidelines"
have been adopted into the "Associated Press Stylebook", a basic
reference for professional journalists.

Please use the "Guidelines" when you write or report about
people with disabilities. If you would like more information,
additional copies of the "Guidelines", or an attractive 14x20
poster of disability writing style "do's" and "don'ts" contact:
Publications, Research and Training Center on Independent
Living, 4089 Dole Bldg., University of Kansas, Lawrence KS
66045. You can also contact our Center by
e-mail:rtcil@kuhub.cc.ukans.edu, phone: 913-864-4095
(voice/TTY), or by fax: (913-864-5063).

Information about ordering the "Guidelines" is also listed in
our free catalog and on the World Wide Web under RTCIL

Please consider the following when writing about people with
disabilities.

DO NOT FOCUS ON DISABILITY unless it is crucial to a story.
Avoid tear-jerking human interest stories about incurable
diseases, congenital impairments, or severe injury. Focus
instead on issues that affect the quality of life for those same
individuals, such as accessible transportation, housing,
affordable health care, employment opportunities, and
discrimination.

DO NOT PORTRAY SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES AS
SUPERHUMAN.Even though the public may admire superachievers,
portraying people with disabilities as superstars raises false
expectations that all people with disabilities should achieve
this level.

DO NOT SENSATIONALIZE A DISABILITY by saying afflicted with,
crippled with, suffers from, victim of, and so on. Instead, say
person who has multiple sclerosis or man who had polio.

DO NOT USE GENERIC LABELS for disability groups, such as "the
retarded," "the deaf." Emphasize people not labels. Say people
with mental retardation or people who are deaf.

PUT PEOPLE FIRST, not their disability. Say woman with
arthritis, children who are deaf, people with disabilities. This
puts the focus on the individual, not the particular functional
limitation. Because of editorial pressures to be succinct, we
know it is not always possible to put people first. If the
portrayal is positive and accurate, consider the following
variations: disabled citizens, nondisabled people,
wheelchair-user, deaf girl, paralyzed child, and so on.
Crippled, deformed, suffers from, victim of, the retarded,
infirm, the deaf and dumb, etc. are never acceptable under any
circumstances.

EMPHASIZE ABILITIES not limitations. For example: uses a
wheelchair/braces, walks with crutches, rather than confined to
a wheelchair, wheelchair-bound, or crippled. Similarly, do not
use emotional descriptors such as unfortunate, pitiful, and so
forth.

Disability groups also strongly object to using euphemisms to
describe disabilities. Terms such as handicapable, mentally
different, physically inconvenienced, and physically challenged
are considered condescending. They reinforce the idea that
disabilities cannot be dealt with up front.

DO NOT IMPLY DISEASE when discussing disabilities that result
from a prior disease episode. People who had polio and
experienced after effects have a postpolio disability. They are
not currently experiencing the disease. Do not imply disease
with people whose disability has resulted from anatomical or
physiological damage (e.g., person with spina bifida or cerebral
palsy). Reference to disease associated with a disability is
acceptable only with chronic diseases, such as arthritis,
Parkinson's disease, or multiple sclerosis. People with
disabilities should never be referred to as patients or cases
unless their relationship with their doctor is under discussion.

SHOW PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES AS ACTIVE participants of society.
Portraying persons with disabilities interacting with
nondisabled people in social and work environments helps break
down barriers and open lines of communications.

Listed below are preferred words that reflect a positive
attitude in portraying disabilities:

Brain injury. Describes a condition where there is long-term or
temporary disruption in brain function resulting from injury to
the brain. Difficulties with the cognitive, physical, emotional,
or social functioning may occur. Use person with a brain injury,
woman who has sustained brain injury, or boy with an acquired
brain injury.

Cleft lip. Describes a specific congenital disability involving
lip and gum. The term hare lip is anatomically incorrect and
stigmatizing. Use person who has a cleft lip or a cleft palate.

Deaf. Deafness refers to a profound degree of hearing loss that
prevents understanding speech though the ear. Hearing impaired
and hearing loss are generic terms used by some individuals to
indicate any degree of hearing loss--from mild to profound.
These terms include people who are hard of hearing and deaf.
However, some individuals completely disfavor the term hearing
impaired. Others prefer to use deaf or hard of hearing. Hard of
hearing refers to a mild to moderate hearing loss that may or
may not be corrected with amplification. Use women who is deaf,
boy who is hard of hearing, individuals with hearing losses,
people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Disability. General term used for a functional limitation that
interferes with a person's ability for example, to walk, lift,
hear, or learn. It may refer to a physical, sensory, or mental
condition. Use as a descriptive noun or adjective, such as
person living with AIDS, woman who is blind. or man with a
disability. Impairment refers to loss or abnormality of an organ
or body mechanism, which may result in disability.

Disfigurement. Refers to physical changes caused by burn,
trauma, disease, or congenital problems.

Down syndrome. Describes a chromosome disorder which usually
causes a delay in physical, intellectual, and language
development. Usually results in mental retardation. Mongol or
mongoloid are unacceptable.

Handicap. Not a synonym for disability. Describes a condition or
barrier imposed by society, the environment, or by one's own
self. Some individuals prefer inaccessible or not accessible to
describe social and environmental barriers. Handicap can be used
when citing laws and situations but should not be used to
describe a disability. Do not refer to people with disabilities
as the handicapped or handicapped people. Say the building is
not accessible for a wheelchair-user. The stairs are a handicap
for her.

HIV/AIDS. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome is an infectious
disease resulting in the loss of the body's immune system to
ward off infections The disease is caused by the human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV). A positive test for HIV can occur
without symptoms of the illnesses which usually develop up to 10
years later, including tuberculosis, recurring pneumonia cancer,
recurrent vaginal yeast infections, intestinal ailments, chronic
weakness and fever and profound weight loss. Preferred: people
living with HIV people with AIDS or living with AIDS.

Mental disability. The Federal Rehabilitation Act (Section 504)
lists four categories under mental disability: psychiatric
disability retardation, learning disability, or cognitive
impairment is acceptable.

Nondisabled. Appropriate term for people without disabilities.
Normal, able-bodied, healthy, or whole are inappropriate.

Seizure. Describes an involuntary muscular contraction, a brief
impairment or loss of consciousness, etc. resulting from a
neurological condition such as epilepsy or from an acquired
brain injury. Rather than epileptic, say girl with epilepsy or
boy with a seizure disorder. The term convulsion should be used
only for seizures involving contraction of the entire body.

Spastic. Describes a muscle with sudden abnormal and involuntary
spasm. Not appropriate for describing someone with cerebral
palsy or a neurological disorder Muscles are spastic, not people.

Stroke. Caused by interruption of blood to brain. Hemiplegia
(paralysis on one side) may result. Stroke survivor is preferred
over stroke victim.

The RTC/IL acknowledges NIDRR for providing funds to develop the
first edition of the "Guidelines".

PARTIAL LIST OF ENDORSEES

ACCENT ON LIVING MAGAZINE, BLOOMINGTON, IL
ADVOCATES FOR CHILDREN, NEW YORK, NY
ADVOCATES FOR PERSONS WITH DISABLING CONDITIONS
IN ALLIED HEALTH, CHICAGO, IL
AIDS ACTION COUNCIL, WASHINGTON, DC AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE
ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE, WASHINGTON. DC
AMERICAN CLEFT PALATE-CRANIOFACIAL ASSOCIATION, PITTSBURGH, PA
AMERICAN COUNCIL FOR THE BLIND, WASHINGTON, DC
AMERICAN SPINAL INJURY ASSOCIATION, CHICAGO, IL
ARTHRITIS FOUNDATION, ATLANTA, GA
COUNCIL FOR ADVANCEMENT & SUPPORT OF EDUCATION, WASHINGTON, DC
DISABLED ABILITY RESOURCE ENVIRONMENT, EL PASO, TX
DISABILITIES RESOURCES, INC., CENTEREACH, NY
DISABILITY RIGHTS EDUCATION AND DEFENSE FUND, BERKELEY, CA
EPILEPSY FOUNDATION OF AMERICA, LANDOVER, MD
GALLAUDET UNIVERSITY, WASHINGTON, DC
GAZETTE INTERNATIONAL NETWORKING INSTITUTE (G.I.N.I.), ST.
LOUIS, MO
GOODWILL INDUSTRIES INTERNATIONAL, INC., BETHESDA MD
HUNTINGTON'S DISEASE SOCIETY OF AMERICA, INC., NEW YORK, NY
JOSEPH P. KENNEDY JR. FOUNDATION, WASHINGTON, DC
KIDS ON THE BLOCK, COLUMBIA, MD
LEARNING DISABILITIES ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, PITTSBURGH, PA
MAINSTREAM MAGAZINE, SAN DIEGO, CA
NATIONAL AMPUTATION FOUNDATION, INC., MALVERNE, NY
NATIONAL ATAXIA FOUNDATION, WAYZATA, MN
NATIONAL BRAIN INJURY ASSOCIATION, WASHINGTON, DC
NATIONAL DOWN SYNDROME CONGRESS, ATLANTA, GA
NATIONAL DOWN SYNDROME SOCIETY, NEW YORK, NY
NATIONAL EMPOWERMENT CENTER, WASHINGTON, DC
NATIONAL INFORMATION CENTER ON DEAFNESS, WASHINGTON, DC
NATIONAL MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION, ALEXANDRIA, VA
NATIONAL ORGANIZATION ON DISABILITY, WASHINGTON, DC
NATIONAL SPINAL CORD INJURY ASSOCIATION, CAMBRIDGE, MA
RRTC on DRUGS AND DISABILITY, DAYTON, OH
THE ARC of THE U.S., ARLINGTON, TX
THE ASSOCIATION FOR PERSONS WITH SEVERE HANDICAPS, (TASH),
BALTIMORE, MD
THE DISABILITY RAG & RESOURCE, LOUISVILLE, KY
WORLD INSTITUTE ON DISABILITY OAKLAND, CA

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End of Document
Received on Thursday, 1 October 1998 11:43:14 GMT

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