Person First language focuses on the person first, emphasizing an individual’s abilities, interests and characteristics, not their disabilities.

Every person is made up of many characteristics and abilities—but few want to be identified by only those things. That’s true whether we’re talking about someone's housing situation, their ability to play tennis, or the color of their hair.



Let’s break it down:

When describing someone, start with the person first:


This is Emma.


When mentioning a disability, refer to their name first.


This is Emma. She has a disability.


Don’t use language that focuses on the disability:


This is my disabled friend, Emma.

See the difference?


Please note: everyone is an individual with unique preferences.

Let the person lead and don’t be afraid to ask what they prefer.

Speak Kindness

Jake, Minnesota

To me, Person First language means to treat everyone in a way that shows them their value in the way that we speak - uplifting and not degrading. Inclusion is so important and it starts with out words. 

Sydney, Minnesota

Person First language allows people to address each other as equals, without prejudice or disrespect. This is inclusion and it is within everyone's ability. 

Nicole, Minnesota

Person First language is important to me because I am not my disability. I want to be treated like my family and friends treat me: as a person.

Let's be friends.

Person First is presented by Special Olympics Minnesota. 

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