Put people first

I recently read an online article published by Latina Magazine about Kat Von D. offending people with the name of her new lipstick, Celebutard. I have a hard time understanding why people would promote the use of that word - the "r-word" - when it is already known to be offensive. Do they know?

Who knows about this word or any other words being offensive? Maybe only those who work closely with people who have disabilities. But even some of our professionals who work in hospitals, schools, clinics, etc. do not use the proper terms when speaking of people with disabilities.

In August, I attended a training for speech therapists that mentioned putting people first. This basically means you mention the person first and then their disability. For example, instead of saying "the disabled," say"‘people with a disability.."

At this training, I realized many of the seasoned speech therapists were unaware of this new way to speak about people with disabilities. They were still referring to children with autism as autistic. I realized some people do not realize they are being offensive and possibly grew as a professional using the "old" dialect.

I recently graduated from college in 2012, so I learned the correct and new vocabulary before I entered the workforce and began my career working with people who have disabilities. I am very cautious about how I speak about people in general, whether they have a disability or not. Sometimes I catch myself not using the people first method and I feel guilty. I know better!

Now that more people are advocating rights for people with disabilities, the terms and vocabulary are changing and not every professional is aware. It is understandable for someone to make a mistake and not realize they are being offensive. Vocabulary concerning disabilities have changed and will keep changing.

What I cannot understand is professionals continuing to use offensive language after learning the facts. I’ll refer back to Kat Von D. According to Latina Magazine, once she found out about her lipstick name offending others, she tweeted and later deleted, “At the end of the day, it’s just a f— lipstick.”   

Well, if it’s just a lipstick, why give the lipstick such an offensive name?

Why continue to deny the fact that some words are offensive?

SPEAK UP: Do you think people should change the way they speak about people with disabilities? 

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