Language and Disability

Words Matter

These resources are here to increase awareness about the importance of culturally sensitive language and images when reporting about individuals with disabilities and their families. The following guidelines are suggestions for using language in a more sensitive manner that avoids reducing individuals to a series of labels, symptoms, or medical terms. Advocating for media representatives to be aware of how they use language regarding individuals with disabilities and their families does not suppress freedom of speech. Rather, these suggestions are intended to guide media representatives about how words really do make a difference.

The resources are organized into the following six different categories and can be accessed through the menu on the left:

  • Key Concepts in the Disability Community
  • Person-First Language
  • Portrayal Issues
  • Your Words, Our Image
  • Rosa’s Law & the Language of Bullying
  • A Few Exceptions

They are presented here with permission from our partners at the Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas in Guidelines: How to Write and Report About People with Disabilities, 8th Edition.

  • Download this content as brochure. (PDF, HTML)
  • Download guidelines as a poster. (PDF, HTML)