NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
PDF on ERIC Download full text
ERIC Number: EJ1074188
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 13
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: EISSN-1710-2146
People-First and Competence-Oriented Language
West, Elizabeth A.; Perner, Darlene E.; Laz, Linda; Murdick, Nikki L.; Gartin, Barbara C.
International Journal of Whole Schooling, v11 n2 p16-28 2015
A plethora of political volleyball regarding the use of specific derogatory terms (e.g., "the retarded") recently made headlines throughout the United States. Often movies are made without concern for their portrayal of persons with disabilities using stereotypes and stigma supporting language in the script. Many of those in special education, as well as individuals with disabilities, are dismayed at the lack of sensitivity surrounding the use of such terminology and might be wondering whatever happened to the "people-first language" movement. Competence-oriented based language is aligned to the people-first language movement. Smith, Salend, and Ryan (2001) defined competence-oriented language and interactions as "...positive language that shows acceptance of students with disabilities and provides a classroom environment where they can flourish" (p. 21). Competence-oriented language and interactions promote the use of language that focuses on the abilities and skills of a person instead of his or her disability or deficits. It is having positive interactions with, or about, persons with disabilities instead of negative ones. This article reviews people-first language, its beginnings, its current status, and how it can be promoted and the use of competence-oriented language. It also provides guidelines to promote the effective use of people-first and competence-oriented language. The hope is to educate others so they use language that empowers students with disabilities.
Whole Schooling Consortium. Available from: Concordia University College of Alberta. 7128 Ada Boulevard, Edmonton, AB T5B 4E4, Canada. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A