The Right Word

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” ~ Mark Twain

Right words are important to people with disabilities because they show respect and inclusion; PEOPLE- First or Person-First Language. The Disabilities Rights Movement worked very hard to promote awareness throughout the United States that people with disabilities be recognized for their abilities.

Offensive words are hurtful.

DO NOT USE: THE DISABLED, THE RETARDED, THE BLIND

DO USE: PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, PEOPLE WITH INTELLECTUAL OR DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES, PEOPLE WHO ARE BLIND.

Other words, such as “you people,” separate rather than include. Aren’t we a nation of “We, the people?”

Former Governor Christine Whitman signed a law removing offensive language, such as mentally retarded, and the law also promotes “person-first” language. Although the law was enacted only for State documents, ADAOCAN sent letters to all Ocean County Mayors and ADA Coordinators strongly recommending that the preferred terminology be incorporated in Ocean County official documents, correspondence and verbal communication.