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DisConnect: Person and Identity First Language

Person-first and identity-first language. What's the difference?

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Person-first: Describes a diagnosis or disability as something somebody has.


I have a disability.

I have *disability name*.


Identity-first: Positions disability as part of somebody’s identity - something they are.


I am d/Disabled.

I am “d/Disability descriptor”


*Some folks capitalize the D in Disabled to signify disability pride and belonging.


ALWAYS remember:


Personal preference is key.

Folks with disabilities decided how they want to identify and would like to be identified. Follow their lead on which language to use.


Preferences change.

Folks with disabilities don’t always use exclusively person- or identity-first language. Many factors impact the language used in any situation - things like personal comfort levels and context.


When communicating to wider audiences, we recommend using both language types, to be inclusive. You don’t need to choose just one or the other.


Let’s say you are seeking members of the disability community to consult with for a project. Your outreach can address people who are “Disabled or have a disability”


It isn’t redundant. It is an intentional effort to meet people where they are, and speak to them in language that resonates with them and their own experience.


Language is constantly evolving, and we know there are so many perspectives on the use of person-first and identity-first language.

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