We’re Not Crippled: A Journalist’s Guide to Reporting about Disabilities


This picture has been shared on the Life After Spinal Cord Injury Facebook page and has received lots of comments. It’s common to see phrases in news stories like “bound to a wheelchair,” “suffers from a disability” or “crippling condition.”

I have the unique perspective of being a journalist and a person who lives with a disability. As a journalist, I was taught to use person-first language when describing a person living with a disability.

The Associated Press Stylebook says “avoid descriptions that connote pity, such as afflicted with or suffers from multiple sclerosis.”

Words such as crippled are considered offensive. Handicap should be avoiden when describing a disability.

I would consider myself as someone who uses a wheelchair. The wheelchair doesn’t define me; it’s simply a device I use for mobility.

In reality, the wheelchair does not confine or bind us. These devices are what enable us to live and move independently. We are able freely get around because of this equipment.

The AP Stylebook also says that blindness and deafness refer to people with complete vision or hearing loss, respectively. For others, use the terms visually impaired or hearing impaired.

Help spread the word to show society that we are people first! Let me know your thought on this issue. Comment below.

About Tuesday Talk With Alex

Born in Charleston, SC, I was injured in a motor vehicle accident when I was nine months old. I acquired a C5-C6 spinal cord injury. I'm now 30 years old and I do not let my disability deter me from acheiving my goals and enjoying life. I will be sharing my experience of living with a spinal cord injury.
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6 Responses to We’re Not Crippled: A Journalist’s Guide to Reporting about Disabilities

  1. AJ Walker says:

    Thank you for enlightening us. It is extremely helpful to have this perspective!


  2. Lana Nelson says:

    Alex, your messages always come acrossing “Awakening” to others.

    Thanks, Lana


  3. Katrinda says:

    Great enlightenment for all of us! I am committed to be mindful of the words I use and why!


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