GT IndependenceResourcesDisability Garrison – Episode 03: #ThingsYouShouldNotSay with Liz Weintraub

Disability Garrison – Episode 03: #ThingsYouShouldNotSay with Liz Weintraub

November 2, 2021

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The Problem

Language is important. Being respectful to a person with a disability means using the right words. What are things you shouldn’t say to someone with a disability?

Join Michael and Holly as they talk with Liz Weintraub, Senior Advocacy Specialist with AUCD. They’ll discuss hurtful, outdated, and improper language they’ve heard in their everyday lives. And they’ll give words or phrases to use instead.

What We Can Do About It

It’s easy to get paralyzed by the feeling that we can’t make a difference. But helping out can be a lot simpler than we think.

Step 1: Treat Everyone Like a Person

Some terminologies that were common ten, twenty, or thirty years ago are now outdated and possibly offensive. If you hear someone using an outdated or offensive term, correct them. Even if there isn’t a person with a disability around. Use it as a teachable moment to better our society. It is everyone’s responsibility to make all feel welcome and included in every space.

Are you wanting to ask someone a question that may offend them? Ask yourself if it is something you really need the answer to. If it isn’t, then don’t ask. Every person is deserving of kindness and respect.

Step 2: Encourage Employers to Step Up

Ask your workplace to hold disability etiquette trainings for all employees. Ask for these trainings to be hosted by people with disabilities. They have the lived experiences that provides the level of expertise. It is allyship to amplify their voices by giving them a platform. Also, the people hosting the trainings should be appropriately paid for this work.

Step 3: Support Center for Disability Inclusion

Center for Disability Inclusion works with businesses to help with their disability inclusion efforts. They offer disability awareness and inclusion trainings. They also host many events each year including job fairs and webinars. Although the focus is primarily on disability inclusion, they have resources for veterans as well.

Boom. You’ve made a difference.

Liz’s Story

Liz Weintraub has a long history of leadership in advocacy. She has held many board and advisory positions. Currently, she is a full time member of the AUCD’s policy team. She’s also the host of Tuesdays With Liz: Disability Policy For All, where she works to make policy accessible to all.

Prior to being with AUCD, she served as a Fellow for Senator Bob Casey. Through that role, she helped lead the way on disability policy in the Senate.

One of her greatest accomplishments was being invited to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. She spoke about the potential implications of confirming Justice Kavanaugh.

Get More Information on Language and the Disability Community

Current Advocacy and Studies

Terminology That Has Changed and What to Use Now

How to Write and Speak About People with Disabilities

  • ADA National Network – A great list of things to keep in mind when writing about people with disabilities.
  • American Psychological AssociationThe official APA Style guide for writing and citations about disability.
  • Brown University – Student Accessibility Services at Brown University put together this list of appropriate terminology.
  • GOV.UK – This list from the government of the United Kingdom gives specific words to avoid and others to use instead.
  • Australian Network on Disability – A workplace-specific list of guidelines from Australia that can be relevant worldwide. This list explains why “disclosure” of a disability can imply secrets and lies, and recommends using “choose to share” instead.
  • People with Disability AustraliaThis printable pamphlet would be a great resource to leave in the break room at work or to hand out to friends and family.
  • United Spinal Association – A pamphlet on disability etiquette available in English, Spanish, and Chinese.

What Not to Say to Someone with a Disability

Learn More About Disability Garrison Podcast