Words Matter: The Language We Use to Describe People and Communities Impact Future Success June 3, 2024 at 2:45 pm

There is considerable evidence to support the concept that words and labels we use can have a positive or negative impact on the disability community. Here are a few examples:

Article: The evolution of disability language: Choosing terms to describe disability
Authors: Erin E. Andrews PsyD, ABPP a b, Robyn M. Powell PhD, JD c d, and others

In an article republished on the American Psychological Association, originally published in the Rehabilitation Psychology Journal TOC, the authors report on the impact that language has on outcomes.
Article: #SaytheWord: A disability culture commentary on the erasure of “disability.”
Author: Andrews, Erin E. Forber-Pratt, Anjali J. Mona, Linda R. Lund, Emily M. Pilarski, Carrie R. Balter, Rochelle.

In the book Words Can Change Your Brain, Dr. Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist and Mark Robert Waldman, a communications expert report that a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.

Key Learning Outcomes

1. Understand the importance of respectful and accurate language that honors the diversity of the disability community.
2. Discuss examples of outdated terminology and the unintentional negative impact they may have on the disability community.
3. Develop an inclusive and positive communication style that reflects an individual’s dignity and agency based on their preferences.


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