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Words Matter Eliminate Labels

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March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Words Matter – Eliminate Labels

Our words and the meanings we attach to them create attitudes, drive social policies and laws, influence our feelings and decisions and affect people’s daily lives. How we use our words makes a difference. No one wants to be identified by a label. When people are described by their labels of medical diagnoses, it perpetuates stereotypes of those who have disabilities and devalues and disrespects them as individuals.

There are more than 350,000 Iowans who have a disability; of those, more than 48,000 have a developmental disability (a mental or physical disability acquired before the age of 22 years). These Iowans are people who have individual abilities, interests and needs. They are moms, dads, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, friends, neighbors, coworkers, students and teachers, and they are making valuable contributions in their communities throughout the state.

March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, and Iowans with Disabilities in Action (ID Action), a project of the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council (DD Council), is challenging you to put people first. Rik Shannon, public policy manager at the Iowa DD Council said, “It is important to recognize the person and not the disability. By placing the person first, the disability is no longer the primary, defining characteristic of an individual but one of several aspects of the whole person. It eliminates generalizations and stereotypes by focusing on the person rather than the disability.”

Join ID Action and encourage others to consider the impact of their words and eliminate labels. Please visit www.idaction.org for more information.