Garten's mission is to support people with disabilities in their effort to contribute to the community through employment, career, and retirement opportunities.
Our actions increase society's awareness of human potential.

“People First” Language

Language is power. Words can motivate, inspire, encourage or assist. They can also wound, isolate, separate or oppress.
Throughout history, we have changed the way we use language when we realize what we may have historically said, actually harms or marginalizes certain groups or individuals.
When it comes to people with disabilities, we’ve come to realize the power of “people first” language. A person with disabilities is a person first. A disability is not the primary defining characteristic for anyone. Rather, it is merely one aspect of a whole person. So when you use “people first” language, you refer to the individual first rather than to their disability.
It’s as easy as this: rather than saying “the disabled,” simply say instead “people with disabilities.” This phrasing puts the emphasis on the person. It puts “people first”.
People who have disabilities are present in every aspect of society. They are:

• moms and dads
• sons and daughters
• employees and employers
• researchers and scientists (Stephen Hawking)
• friends and neighbors
• entertainers and movie stars (Marlee Matlin)
• students and teachers
• politicians and community leaders

Most important of all, they are PEOPLE FIRST!


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Appropriate terminology includes the following terms or phrases:
“a person with disabilities”

“individuals with disabilities”

“he/she uses a wheelchair”

“he/she has a congenital disability”

“he/she has a cognitive disability”

“he/she has a hearing impairment”

“he/she has a visual impairment”

“he/she has a learning disability”

Terms to avoid that are derogatory or offensive:
  • invalid
  • wheelchair-bound
  • mongoloid
  • deaf and dumb
  • defective
  • mute
  • victim
  • crippled
  • special person
  • suffers from
  • handicapped
  • stricken with
  • a patient
  • retarded
  • afflicted with