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Your UCP: National October 01, 2003
Vocabulary Tips

Vocabulary Tips

Watch Your Language! Tips for the media regarding people with disabilities

AFFLICTED - Very negative and a definite downer! Person who has or is affected by is much better.

CEREBRAL PALSIED - Sounds like an inanimate object instead of a person. Why not person or people with cerebral palsy?

C.P. - OK to describe the condition, but NOT a person. This puts all people in a neat little package and deposits them in a file drawer. Please use who has or who have cerebral palsy when referring to people.

CONFINED TO A WHEECHAIR - On the contrary, a wheelchair is the key to mobility for some people. Indeed, they are only "confined" when their wheelchairs break down. Better to say he or she uses a wheelchair.

CRIPPLED OR CRIPPLER - This paints a mental picture at which no one wants to look.

DISEASE - Cerebral palsy is NOT a disease. People with cerebral palsy are as healthy as anybody else. Better to say condition.

DRAIN OR BURDEN - We wouldn't touch these two words with a ten foot pole. Added responsibility is much better.

POOR - Disabilities have nothing to do with how wealthy someone is. Love and self-esteem are priceless qualities. A person's character determines the richness of his or her life.

SUFFERS FROM - If someone with a disability is independent and copes with life as well as most of us, then this phrase definitely doesn't apply.

UNFORTUNATE - What's unfortunate is that is word is often used to describe people with disabilities. Don't offend with this one.

VICTIM - A person with a disability was neither sabotaged nor necessarily injured in a plane, train or car crash. There's no way to rephrase this turkey.

WHEELCHAIR BOUND - Leaves the impression that the wheelchair user (a better descriptive term) is glued to his or her transportation.

**THIS LIST IS PROVIDED AS A PUBLIC SERVICE. Our help is needed to keep people with cerebral palsy --or with other disabilities - from sounding pitiful, inhuman or like beings from outer space when you describe them in your stories.

People with cerebral palsy and other disabilities have the same rights as everyone else in this world: to fall in live, to marry, to hold down a job, to acquire an adequate education. Above all, they have the right to self-esteem.

Please protect these rights by referring to individuals in terms that acknowledge their abilities, merit and dignity. In turn we hope your readers and listeners will follow suit.

For further information on cerebral palsy and other disabilities, please contact UCP at 1-800-USA-5UCP.

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