Words Matter Choose the Right Words, they matter.

The recent campaign launched to eradicate the word "bossy" from our vernacular has sparked a firestorm of commentary from all corners of the peanut gallery.

There are those concerned that free speech is in danger of being trampled. There are those who maintain a more "stick and stones" perspective. There are those who favor a focus on the down-the-road effects of negative reinforcement.

Smiling woman gardening form wheelchair.

But regardless of which side of the debate you fall on, most can agree that words do matter. And while a nation founded on the principles of freedom should take care not to dictate the language of its populace, perhaps that populace could take care and, when choosing its words, choose dignity.

People with disabilities have heard it all when it comes to expressions describing them. The person doing the talking has a choice; they can focus on the positive or not. They can be part of a solution or not. They can focus on the person and their ability over the disability.

The Vermont Developmental Disabilities Council suggests the following:

CHOOSE AFIRMATION… OVER THE ALTERNATIVE
people with disabilities the handicapped; the disabled
people who are blind; people who are visually impaired the blind
people who are deaf; people who are hard of hearing; the Deaf suffers a hearing impairment; hearing impaired
people who have multiple sclerosis

afflicted by MS

people with cerebral palsy CP victim
people with developmental disabilities retarded; mentally defective; slow
people who use a wheelchair; wheelchair user confined to a wheelchair; wheelchair bound
people without disabilities; non-disabled people normal person
unable to speak; non-verbal dumb; mute
seizure fit
successful; productive courageous
people with mobility impairments cripple; lame
people with mental illness; psychiatric survivors mental; crazy; psycho; nutcase

Choose dignity. It's catching.

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