Recognizing the importance of placing the person before their disability is more than being polite. Its essential to changing public attitudes, behaviors and acknowledging ones abilities.
We are taught from a young age that all lives have value, it is wrong to judge or discriminate against another individual and that we should right a wrong when we see one. What about when we hear a medical diagnosis used to label a person with a disability? No matter how unintentional, the use of a label negatively influences attitudes and acts as a form of discrimination. As an example, a mother doesnt have an autistic child. She has a child with autism. The disability should not define a person, their abilities or potential. We dont have a community of disabled people, but rather a community of people of all abilities. Thats what people first language is all about.
You can help change perceptions and have a positive influence on others by using people first language. Be thoughtful and sensitive when choosing words describing an individual with a disability they have personalities, interests, passions and dreams that are more important descriptors than a disability.
Remember, a disability does not define a person. While they may have a disability, it is not who they are. To help support its use, AWS Foundation requests people first language in grant applications.