Language Guide for The Change Starts Here Collaborative

Effective date: November 1, 2020

Why a language guide?

Language is important.  It shapes so much of what we do.  For centuries language has been used to dehumanize many minorities.  This Collaborative will use language to build up minority populations.

Disability Language

We will use the term "disability" and not use the term "special needs," except as a way to include those that do use that term in our conversations. The term disability is the term that we have been asked to use by the disability community because "disability" is a protected class and it also doesn't sound like a preference as the term "special needs" can.  We will prioritize the voices of self advocates.

We will default to person-first language except when preferred another way.  For example, many in the Autism community have preferred to be referred to as "Autistic" whereas the those with FASD prefer "individual with FASD."  When working with a particular individual, we will verify how they want to be referred to in regards to their diagnosis.

We will refer to the National Center on Disability and Journalism's style guide as a general language guide and for information on particular disabilities not otherwise outlined below.

When referring to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), we will defer to the CANFASD language guide by avoiding such terms as "suffering from FASD," "100% preventable," and "maternal alcohol consumption."

Regarding Autism, we will defer to the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and their position statements.  We will not talk about cures for Autism or use the terms "high functioning" or "low functioning."


Contact Us

If you have additional recommendations for the language guide, please submit them by emailing [email protected]