Communicating Positive Attitudes Toward People with Disabilities Through Sensitive Terminology


  • John Dattilo
  • Ralph W Smith


Attitudes, DisabilitYt Terminology, Therapeutic Recreation, Communication


Therapeutic recreation specialists are provided with information on sensitive terminology that communicates positive attitudes toward people with disabilities. Suggestions for using terminology that focuses attention on similarities shared by all people rather than differences are made. A "People first" philosophy is described with implications for terminology. Therapeutic recreation specialists are encouraged to emphasize individuals' abilities rather than their disabilities by using specific words and phrases. Recommendations on using language that communicates dignity and respect are also presented. An attempt is made to alleviate confusion with some words and promote the use of consistent terminology that represent people with disabilities in a positive manner. In addition, information is provided on preferred terminology to describe people without disabilities. Debate and controversy surrounding some words and phrases is also presented. Finally, therapeutic recreation specialists. are encouraged to act as change agents helping other people to use the most appropriate terminology to describe individuals with disabilities.





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