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With more openness and advocacy

occurring on campus, changes are

being made in several areas. One is

in the area of semantics. Just a few

years ago, the majority of the teaching

population wouldn’t have recognized

many of the phrases and terms that

are commonplace today. One such

phrase is “People First Language.”

The Indiana Governor’s Council for

People with Disabilities presents the

three following rules to explain how to

effectively use People First Language.

The first rule is to refer to the person

first and not his or her disability. For

example, using the phrase “person

with a disability” in place of a

“handicapped person” is a much more

uplifting use of speech. Rule number

two is to make sure to never group

individuals together based on their

disability. An example of this would

be the use of the label “the mentally

disabled,” which puts the focus on the

disability instead of the individuals.

The third and final rule is to avoid

emotional and sensationalist words.

This type of language often stems

from people with disabilities being

categorized as either inspirational or

pitiable, both of which are extreme,

inexact stereotypes.

Open communication can do much

to alleviate misunderstandings which

occur. One issue which arises is

self-advocacy on the part of students

who have disabilities. Matt Springer

said, “I would say if you are talking to

seniors, they would rate themselves

as extremely satisfied [with their

college experience]. If you are talking

to freshman, because of the difference

between a K-12 system and the

college system, where everything

is now dependent on them, they

have to learn to self-advocate and let

someone know they need help, like

all freshman. Once they get past that

learned helplessness that the K-12

system develops, and once they are

able to interact with people who do

not attend IU Southeast but have

similar disabilities, then they often

reflect back and decide it wasn’t so

bad.” Kathryn Ryan, Senior Lecturer

in Special Education, notes that

“The only problem I have seen arise

occurs when a student doesn’t want

to register with the Disability Services

due to the fear of a stigma that could

be associated with it, making it more

difficult for an instructor to know how

to make effective accommodations.”

Tanya DeCoux, a senior who

is double majoring in criminal

justice and psychology, also noted

the benefits of using the ADA

accommodations. Tanya is visually

impaired, has a seizure disorder, and

recently discovered that she is losing

her ability to hear. She explained, “I

always try to get my ADA letter at

least two weeks prior to the start of

the semester. I get a new one each

semester because I noticed that

AN ADA LETTER

IS WHAT MANY

WOULD TERM

A LIVING

DOCUMENT,

A DOCUMENT

THAT IS SUBJECT

TO CHANGE AS

NEEDS ARISE.