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Often, people will say things in their everyday conversations that could offend others, and they don’t even know it. One local organization says it’s important to always recognize that people with disabilities are just that – people first. Using terms like “person who is disabled,” “person who is blind”or “person who uses a wheelchair” are much more acceptable than referring to the disability first. KSMU’s Royal Yates has more on a national campaign known as “Clean Up Your Language.”
The Missouri Planning Council for Developmental Disabilities and the group People First have been promoting Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month throughout March. Along with being more aware of those who have disabilities, the organizations would also like people to be aware of what words they use and how they can affect others. That’s why the Clean Up Your Language campaign was born.
Ozarks Community Hospital has joined hands with these organizations to promote the Clean Up Your Language Campaign in southwest Missouri. Carrie Richardson, Director of Communications for OCH, says people at the hospital are passionate about the topic.
“Because we really do come in contact with a lot of students who have a disability, we thought this would be a great way to honor them, celebrate our relationship with them, and show our commitment that we are going to use language that is appropriate and treat them as people,” said Richardson.
The Business Associated Student Education program, or BASE, places students with disabilities in environments where they can learn to function and live independently. Some of these students are preparing for jobs in the community to eventually support themselves.
Many of these BASE workers are volunteers at Ozarks Community Hospital. BASE workers worked more than 1500 hours last year in several departments around the hospital, and have become part of the OCH family.
The Missouri Planning Council for Developmental Disabilities has several suggestions on its website on what language to use and not to use when talking about disabilities: among the suggestions are to say a person has a “cognitive or intellectual disability” instead of calling them “mentally retarded,” or that a person “uses” a wheelchair instead of being “confined” to a wheelchair. Also, you can say that someone has a “physical disability” instead of saying they are “crippled.”
For KSMU News, I’m Royal Yates.