Preferred language practice in professional rehabilitation journals.This study examined the use of preferred language relative to persons with disabilities in three major rehabilitation rehabilitation: see physical therapy. journals: Journal of Rehabilitation, Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling rehabilitation counseling,
n counseling started in the United States in 1920 to assist individuals disabled by industrial accidents; originally included physical, psychologic, and occupational training; expanded over the next 70 years and laid the , and Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin. The central preferred guideline identified from the literature on language is to stress person over the disability. Results show that preferred language is used about half the time over more conventional forms. Reasons for inconsistency in·con·sis·ten·cy
n. pl. in·con·sis·ten·cies
1. The state or quality of being inconsistent.
2. Something inconsistent: many inconsistencies in your proposal. in using preferred language forms are explored. Primary consideration is given to lack of explicit language directives in the relevant professional literature.
The relationship between language and attitudes and possible ambivalence ambivalence (ămbĭv`ələns), coexistence of two opposing drives, desires, feelings, or emotions toward the same person, object, or goal. The ambivalent person may be unaware of either of the opposing wishes. of professionals' personal attitudes towards people with disabilities are also discussed.
For more than a decade the rehabilitation profession has been dealing actively with the issue of appropriate language usage in referring to people with disabilities. A general consensus has developed that language communicates attitudes and that inappropriate language encourages negative stereotypes (Boland, 1980; Handley & Brodwin, 1988; Kailes, 1985; Manus MANUS. Anciently signified the person taking an oath as a compurgator. The use of this word probably came from the party laying his hand on the New Testament. Manus signifies, among the civilians, power, and is frequently used as synonymous with potestas. Lec. El. Dr. Rom. Sec. 94. , 1975; Patterson, 1988; Wright, 1983). Consequently, there has been strong support for language that does not devalue the person or encourage stereotypic stereotypic /ster·eo·typ·ic/ (ster?e-o-tip´ik) having a fixed, unvarying form. images.
The primary general language recommendation of the past decade is that "person " or people " should precede the disability (Hadley and Brodwin, 1988; Kailes, 1985; Manus, 1975). Moreover, disability descriptors should not be used as nouns because this tends to identify the person with, or in terms of, the disability. For example, "person who is blind" or "person with paraplegia paraplegia (pâr'əplē`jēə), paralysis of the lower part of the body, commonly affecting both legs and often internal organs below the waist. When both legs and arms are affected, the condition is called quadriplegia. involvement" is preferable to blind person," "the blind," or "paraplegic paraplegic /para·ple·gic/ (-ple´jik)
1. pertaining to or of the nature of paraplegia.
2. an individual with paraplegia. " (Boland, 1980; Hadley & Brodwin, 1988; Kailes, 1985; Manus, 1975).
Other more specific recommendations on preferable language use include the following:
(1) Emotional or sensationalist sen·sa·tion·al·ism
a. The use of sensational matter or methods, especially in writing, journalism, or politics.
b. Sensational subject matter.
c. Interest in or the effect of such subject matter. terms- such as "sufferer" or "victim"- should be avoided because of their negative connotations and tendency to evoke pity (Hadley & Brodwin, 1988; Kailes, 1985; Staff, 1985).
(2) The term "patient" and similar medical terminology Medical terminology is a vocabulary for accurately describing the human body and associated components, conditions, processes and procedures in a science-based manner. This systematic approach to word building and term comprehension is based on the concept of: (1) Word roots, (2) implies that people with disabilities are sick," connotating "disease" and possible contagion- which is not the case (Hadley & Brodwin, 1988). Moreover, "patienthood," consistent with the medical model, implies a relatively passive role whereas rehabilitation philosophy and practice stress active cooperation in a joint venture of provider and client.
(3) The term "disabled" should be used in place of "handicapped" since not all disabilities are handicapping, and some are handicapping only part of the time (Kailes, 1985; Staff, 1985).
(4) The term "normal" implies that people with disabilities are abnormal" and so should be avoided (Kailes, 1985).
(5) The term "wheelchair user" is preferable to wheelchair bound" or "confined con·fine
v. con·fined, con·fin·ing, con·fines
1. To keep within bounds; restrict: Please confine your remarks to the issues at hand. See Synonyms at limit. to a wheelchair" (Hadley & Brodwin, 1988; Kailes, 1985; Staff, 1985). Still, "wheelchair user" sounds like someone has made a career out of using a wheelchair; "person who uses a wheelchair" is preferred (Hadley & Brodwin, 1988).
Although there appears to be professional consensus on preferred language forms, ambiguity abounds in the advisory literature on language. For example, the brochures Guidelines for Reporting and Writing about People with Disabilities (1984) and What Makes Disabled People Disabled? (Catalog catalog, descriptive list, on cards or in a book, of the contents of a library. Assurbanipal's library at Nineveh was cataloged on shelves of slate. The first known subject catalog was compiled by Callimachus at the Alexandrian Library in the 3d cent. B.C. number 6-12) are designed to improve the public's attitudes and language. Consistent with the above guidelines, both recommend: 1) emphasizing the person over the disability- as in "persons with disabilities" rather than "the disabled," and 2) avoiding sensationalist terms which evoke inappropriate emotional responses. Yet both these brochures manage to mix preferred with non-preferred or conventional usage such as "disabled people," "mentally ill people," and "deaf persons Noun 1. deaf person - a person with a severe auditory impairment
individual, mortal, person, somebody, someone, soul - a human being; "there was too much for one person to do" ;" that is, putting the disability descriptor (1) A word or phrase that identifies a document in an indexed information retrieval system.
(2) A category name used to identify data.
(operating system) descriptor first.
In 1985 the National Rehabilitation Association provided guidelines for preferred language usage with respect to people with disabilities (Staff, 1985). Though also generally consistent with the recommendations above, the NRA NRA
(National Rifle Association of America) organization that encourages sharpshooting and use of firearms for hunting. [Am. Pop. Culture: NCE, 1895]
See : Hunting Newsletter recommended the terms "able-bodied" and normal"- contrary to the fourth guideline recommendation listed above. These examples indicate the literature on preferred language usage does not always follow the sense of its own advice.
Boland reported in 1980 that although appropriate or preferred language guidelines had been encouraged during the preceding five years, 40% of the rehabilitation journal manuscript titles examined in her study, covering the years 1978-1979, continued to use non-preferred or what she referred to as "disabling dis·a·ble
tr.v. dis·a·bled, dis·a·bling, dis·a·bles
1. To deprive of capability or effectiveness, especially to impair the physical abilities of.
2. Law To render legally disqualified. " language. In a subsequent study covering the years 1984-1985 Patterson (1988) found that 73% of manuscript titles used non-preferred language versus 27% preferred, which shows a reduction in the use of preferred language in manuscript titles.
Patterson (1988) discussed this lack of consistency in implementing preferred language standards and noted that journals do not provide explicit guidelines on appropriate language use. To date the only journal to offer explicit advice on language, implementing the central guideline recommendation as noted above, is the final 1988 issue of the Journal of Rehabilitation:
Author(s) should be especially sensitive to their use of language related to disabilities. Maintain the integrity of all people with disabilities by avoiding language that equates people with the conditions they have (such as "the mentally ill "). Use instead the phrase people with mental illness " (p. 78).
Boland (1980) has called on rehabilitation professionals to lead the way by using preferred language wherever possible in both written and oral communication -- journals, books, promotional materials, presentations, and in the classroom. She suggested that professional journals -- particularly rehabilitation journals-- review manuscripts for disabling language. Finally, Boland encouraged active advocacy by suggesting that rehabilitation professionals write to publishers and editors to advance the cause of preferred language over disabling language. It was the purpose of this study to determine the degree of consistent preferred language usage by rehabilitation professionals as indicated in professional writing.
This study examined all full-length articles published during 1988 in three major rehabilitation journals: Journal of Rehabilitation, Journal of applied Rehabilitation Counseling, and Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin. All articles were read completely to identify relevant language usage as either "preferred" or "non-preferred"- consistent with the central language guideline recommendation reviewed in the preceding section.
Language relating to relating to relate prep → concernant
relating to relate prep → bezüglich +gen, mit Bezug auf +acc recognizable disability which put the person or people first and disability second was scored as preferred. For example: "person with a spinal cord injury Spinal Cord Injury Definition
Spinal cord injury is damage to the spinal cord that causes loss of sensation and motor control.
Approximately 10,000 new spinal cord injuries (SCIs) occur each year in the United States. " or people who are deaf' was counted as preferred vis a vis their non-preferred counterparts of "visually-impaired person" or "the mentally retarded Noun 1. mentally retarded - people collectively who are mentally retarded; "he started a school for the retarded"
developmentally challenged, retarded ."
Quoted materials were not included in the count since, obviously, authors are not in control of the language of their sources. Results were tabulated in terms of an overall percentage of preferred versus non-preferred usage for each journal.
Overall, preferred language is used a little better than half the time: The three journals showed similar preferred language usage rates averaging 55% (see Table 1). (TABULAR tab·u·lar
1. Having a plane surface; flat.
2. Organized as a table or list.
3. Calculated by means of a table.
resembling a table. DATA OMITTED)
While Patterson (1988) reports a 27% preferred usage rate in manuscript titles, the present study reflects a 71% preferred language usage rate in manuscript titles for all three journals (see Table 2). (TABULAR DATA OMITTED)
Finally, of those articles with preferred language titles (the 71% noted in Table 2) 85% continued to employ non-preferred language within the article text itself (see Table 3). (TABULAR DATA OMITTED)
While rehabilitation professionals have been called on to lead the way, they have not, apparently, been in front of the general public in adapting to language trends (Boland, 1980; Patterson, 1988). Despite general agreement among rehabilitation professionals on emphasizing the person over disability, few articles examined in this study consistently reflected preferred language practice. The high percentage of articles with preferred language titles which nevertheless employ non-preferred text usage suggests good intentions without strong follow-through commitment; or, it may reflect awareness of published research on preferred manuscript title usage (Boland, 1980, Patterson, 1988).
The articles reviewed began well, but then lapsed LEGACY, LAPSED. A legacy is said to be lapsed or extinguished, when the legatee dies before the testator, or before the condition upon which the legacy is given has been performed, or before the time at which it is directed to vest in interest has arrived. Bac. Ab. Legacy, E; Com. Dig. into more conventional modes, as if it became too awkward or inconvenient in·con·ven·ient
Not convenient, especially:
a. Not accessible; hard to reach.
b. Not suited to one's comfort, purpose, or needs: inconvenient to have no phone in the kitchen. to use the preferred phrase throughout. For example, authors frequently used "the mentally retarded" for "people with mental retardation mental retardation, below average level of intellectual functioning, usually defined by an IQ of below 70 to 75, combined with limitations in the skills necessary for daily living. ." One author may have found a resolution to the problem of language consistency and possible inconvenience or awkwardness by shortening "blacks who are disabled" to "BWD BWD
bacillary white diarrhea. See pullorum disease. " for the remainder of the article.
Some uncertainty may be expected while language usage regarding people with disabilities is undergoing change. Patterson observes that ambiguities reflected in the professional literature on preferred usage, such as discussed above, helps explain the lack of language consistency. Clearly, the rehabilitation discipline needs to develop and implement explicit guidelines, as noted above, relevant to preferred language practices to adapt effectively to ongoing language change. Such advice would encourage authors to use preferred forms by providing reviewers and editors, who are in a unique position to influence authors, with more objective evaluative language standards.
In view of the apparently significant evidence of disabling language among rehabilitation professionals, perhaps we should also reconsider the relationship between language and attitudes toward people with disabilities. We may want to ask ourselves whether we are putting emphasis on language per se without the necessary corresponding emphasis on supportive attitudes--putting the cart before the horse so to speak (Kelly, 1954). Ironically, the exclusive concern for putting the person first and disability second- apart from a reasonable rationale- may appear to reinforce the notion that it is "bad" to have a disability, which in and of itself may not be, and need not be, necessarily or inherently negative. Perhaps those of us in the rehabilitation profession may need to confront our own possibly limiting attitudes before we are enabled to lead the public in consistently employing language signifying positive regard for all humankind-including those with disabilities.
A final note: As researchers we are, presumably pre·sum·a·ble
That can be presumed or taken for granted; reasonable as a supposition: presumable causes of the disaster. , committed to dispassionate dis·pas·sion·ate
Devoid of or unaffected by passion, emotion, or bias. See Synonyms at fair1.
dis·pas analysis of empirical issues, not letting our values dictate outcome. We do not yet, apparently, have sufficient evidence to prove that disabling language encourages negative attitudes toward those with disabilities, or to suggest that changing language alone produces better attitudes (Patterson & Witten, 1987). We do not even have data to support the claim, and belief, that those who are disabled themselves prefer what is now called non-disabling language (Kailes, 1985). Still, all this may be beside the point.
Some issues are not resolved- perhaps cannot be resolved--empirically, and the language issue may be just such a case. The rehabilitation profession is committed to positive language change because, presumably, of the tie-in to human rights which are assumed rather than proven - as part of a broader sociopolitical so·ci·o·po·li·ti·cal
Involving both social and political factors.
of or involving political and social factors movement of the past two decades to recognize minority rights- Blacks, Women, Native Americans This is a list of Native Americans (first nations and descendents) Cherokee
Boland, J.(1980).1975-1980: Five long years Five Long Years is one of the most widely covered blues standards. It was originally written and recorded by Eddie Boyd in 1952. Recordings
Editor. (1988). Contributor's guidelines, Instructions. Journal of Rehabilitation, 54(4), 78.
Guidelines for Reporting and Writing about People with Disabilities. (1984). "Appropriate terms for special disabilities; Portrayal Issues." The Research and Training Center on Independent Living, funded in part by National Institute of Handicapped Research.
Hadley, Robert G. & Brodwin, Martin G. (1988). Language about people with disabilities. Journal of Counseling and Development, 67(3), 147-149.
Henderson, G. & Bryan, W. (1984). Psychosocial psychosocial /psy·cho·so·cial/ (si?ko-so´shul) pertaining to or involving both psychic and social aspects.
Involving aspects of both social and psychological behavior. Aspects of Disability, Springfield: Charles C. Thomas.
Kailes, J. (1985). Watch your language, please! Journal of Rehabilitation, 51(1), 68-69.
Kelly, G. A. (1954). The Psychology of Personal Constructs (Vol. 1). New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of : Norton.
Manus, G. (1975). Is your language disabling? Journal of Rehabilitation, 41(5), 35.
Patterson, J. (1988). Disabling language: Fact or fiction? The Journal of Applied Rehabilitation Counseling, 19(l), 30-32.
Staff. (March, 1985). NRA initiates campaign for language awareness. NRA Newsletter, p. 1, 3-4.
What Makes Disabled People Disabled? (n.d.). Ohio Governor's Council on Disabled Persons, Catalog Number G-12.
Wright, B. A. (1983). Physical disability: A psychosocial approach.
New York: Harper & Row.
Received: June 1989 Revised: November 1989 Accepted: December 1989