What is People-First Language

Awhile back I thought about writing a blog about People-First Language.  I hesitated doing it because I didn’t want others to feel uncomfortable talking to me about Jacob
and / or Down syndrome.

I recently toured a school where a child with Down syndrome happen to drop something and then the Special Education teacher said, “oh that’s my little Down’s boy, he is sweet”. (EEEEKKKKK!!!) That’s when I realized some people don’t understand the People-First Language Concept – hence the reason for this blog.

Prior to Jacob coming into our life I had NO IDEA what the heck People-First Language was.  I am sure others are in the same boat & feel the same as I did.  Heck I am still learning myself 🙂

Since Jacob has been born I have heard some doctors, nurses, friends, family, etc. refer to those with Down syndrome as “a Down’s kid” or “he has Down’s” or “he was Down”.  Every time hear these phrases it’s like nails scratching a chalk board to me.


So what is People-First Language?
(BTW not a fan of the word disability, I would prefer to say the persons different ability.)

People-First Language respectfully puts the person before their different ability. By placing the person first, the different ability is no longer the primary.

It eliminates generalizations and stereotypes, by focusing on the person.

person firs.JPG

Examples of Using People First Language:

Maria uses a wheelchair

Ryan receives special education services

“a man walks with crutches,” not” he is crippled.”

Accessible (vs. handicapped) parking, bathrooms, etc.

Please be so kind to consider incorporating People-First Language into your vocabulary.  

Erin Schmitz-erin signature

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