By Marisa Geitner, president and C.E.O.
Sometimes certain words or themes have a way of finding us. They show up in emails and in conversation, on social media and even on billboards. That is what has happened to me last week.
First, one of our residence managers, Bethann Selice, posted this question on our Facebook page:
I’ve been reading a few profiles of people who choose our services and it seems weird to me that we are referring to friends as “peers.” I don’t make plans “to go out to dinner, or bowling, or camping” with my “peers,” I make plans with my friends. Using the word “peer” seems like a “lessthan” language word. Just something to consider when referring to people that utilize our services. What are some other words that you’ve noticed that seem like “lessthan” language?
It generated more than 30 comments – all full of suggestions for how we might be more equal in our language.
Then, Steve Fedchak, a behavior intervention specialist, included this in a monthly email that circulates throughout the agency:
This month we’d like to talk about how words matter. Words mean things. And words mean different things to different people. It is important to remember that the intention of our words does not diminish their effect on others. Historically, our culture has been careless about the way we explain, describe, and define people with disabilities- think about the impact of that. We are role models for people in the community who often lack knowledge and understanding of people who have disabilities.
So, we have some momentum here. Let’s keep the conversation going.
How can we continue to improve? And how do we know when we’ve hit the mark with our language?