The Importance of People First Language

For too long, people with disabilities have been subject to devaluation, marginalization, prejudice, and much more. The first way to devalue someone is through language. By using words or labels that identify a person/group as less than or consider them the others, we begin to devalue them. When a person or group has been identified in this way, it is easier to justify prejudice and discrimination. Just as our language shapes our attitudes, our attitudes shape our language. These two things are intertwined and together they control our actions.

People first language is when you put the person before the disability. This can help to eliminate old, prejudicial, and hurtful descriptions. This isn’t about being politically correct, but instead, is about being polite and respecting others. Not only does the way we speak about a person change how we view them, but it also changes how he/she sees him/herself. When we use a diagnosis as a defining characteristic of a person, we create prejudice, and rob the person of the opportunity to define him/ herself.

Too often, we forget just how our words affect our attitudes, drive social policies and laws, influence our feelings and decisions, and affect people’s daily lives and more.

Here are some easy ways to begin using People First Language:

Instead of referring to someone as disabled, refer to them as a person with a disability.

Instead of referring to someone as slow, simple, moronic, etc. refer to them as a person with an intellectual, cognitive, or developmental disability.

Instead of referring to someone as wheelchair bound, refer to them as a person who uses a wheelchair


Dakota Center for Independent Living Hosts Visitability: Making Homes Beautiful and Accessible

Dakota Center for Independent Living is hosting an event on visitability on August 26, 2015 at the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library. There will be two sessions: 3:30-5:00 pm and 6:30-8:00 pm. Visitability is an international movement to change home construction practices so that all new homes, whether or not designated for residents who currently have mobility impairments, offer three specific accessibility features. These features include one zero step entrance, a bathroom that is usable by a wheelchair user, and wider interior doors.

Visitability features make homes easier for people with mobility issues to visit friends and families. These features also provide basic access that allows someone who does not have a disability, but develops one, to remain in their home. Currently, eighty percent of Americans over the age of fifty want to remain in their current home. Building a home with visitable features allows them to achieve that.

When asked about the costs of building a visitable home, Royce Schultze, the executive director at Dakota Center for Independent Living, said, “I think people would be surprised at the low cost of building a visitable home.” She went on to say, “Visitability makes a home easier for everyone. For example, a zero step entrance is much easier for a mother with a young child. It is much easier to just be able to roll a stroller into the house instead of struggling to get it up the stairs.” This event is free and open to the public. There will be time after each session for questions.

Project Service Connect to Take Place on August 20th

Project Service Connect is a one day event that provides individuals and their families who are currently experiencing homelessness, and those who are at risk of homelessness access to vital services in our community. It is a one-stop shop of service providers and community members offering resources regarding housing, employment, transportation, medical/dental care, haircuts and more. This year the event is scheduled for August 20th at the Bismarck Library. The hours are from 3:00-7pm. A light meal will also be served. We have 38 vendors registered for the event. Some of those agencies are; Great Plains Food Bank, Dakota Center for Independent Living,  Youth works, Supportive Services for Vet Families, Social Security Administration, Labor Ready, Command Center, Custer Health, Bismarck Burleigh Public Health and more.