Show the world how to portray disability with respect and integrity

Show the world how to portray disability with respect and integrity

In 1984, the Research and Training Center on Independent Living (RTC/IL) published the first edition of a brochure that has become a nationally known media resource for how to portray people with disabilities.

Now, almost 30 years later, the Center has published the eighth edition of Guidelines: How to Write and Report About People with Disabilities that reflects recommendations for current terminology from disability organizations across the country. A companion poster, Your Words, Our Image, highlights terms from the brochure.

“Journalists, public speakers, educators, human service providers and other communicators have a great influence on shaping society’s attitudes toward disability,” said RTC/IL Director Glen White. “These guidelines are a call to responsible and accurate portrayal that does not objectify or treat people with disabilities as mere human interest stories. Rather, they focus on the humanity of the individual and the fact that the experience of disability is a natural part of life.”

The Associated Press Stylebook, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th edition) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have all adopted some of the recommendations from previous editions of the RTC/IL’S Guidelines.

In the eighth edition, three new sections provide additional information about disability culture and related issues. Rosa’s Law and the Language of Bullying, Key Concepts in the Disability Community and A Few Exceptions expand the updated definitions of terms and give tips on portrayal.

The RTC/IL also used feedback from journalists for this edition in a first-time collaboration with the KU School of Journalism. Journalism Professor Tien-Tsung Lee used the Guidelines brochure and poster as a research project for students in a strategic communications research course. The students conducted a focus group and online survey of practicing journalists to gather responses to the publication. Val Renault, communications coordinator, was the editor of the new edition.

The brochure and poster are both available for free download at shtml. For more information or to order print copies, call or email the RTC/IL at 785-864-4095,