Thursday, June 13, 2013

Grammar Girl Gets It Right

Grammar Girl podcast logo
Every week I enjoy listening to several of the Quick and Dirty Tips Podcasts … 5 to 10 minute audio programs that each cover one short aspect of topics like grammar, personal finances, parenting, etiquette, public speaking. I did a quick search of the website and found that several of the Quick and Dirty podcasts have done episodes on disability issues.

The first one I listened to is Episode 155 of the "Grammar Girl" podcast: "What to Call People With Disabilities"

"Grammar Girl" Mignon Fogarty discusses the proper words and phrases to use when writing about people with disabilities. Her advice is very correct and up to date, and I don't disagree with any of her choices. She advocates "people first" phrasing, confirms that variations on "handicapped" are no longer preferred, (except for a few phrases like "Handicapped Parking"), and even goes out of her way to explain that made-up words like "handi-capable" and "differently abled" are well-meaning but condescending and should be avoided. My only quibble is that the Grammar Girl usually explains why language rules and customs are as the way they are, but in this podcast she basically says it's because people with disabilities prefer it. I think she could have said more about the fact that people first construction and more neutral terms are also more linguistically accurate.

Overall, though, this is a very good guide to disability language that many professional journalists could learn from.