“People-First Language” Leads to Project Name Change in Tanzania

Program now called “Ilboru School for Children with Special Needs”

TANZANIA | People with disabilities are – first and foremost – people who have individual abilities, interests, and needs. They are mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. One billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability, and disability prevalence is higher for developing countries.

The language a society uses to refer to persons with disabilities shapes its beliefs and ideas about them. Words are powerful. Old, inaccurate, and inappropriate descriptors perpetuate attitudinal barriers and negative stereotypes. When we describe people by their labels of medical diagnoses, we devalue and disrespect them as individuals. In contrast, using thoughtful terminology can foster positive attitudes about persons with disabilities. One of the major improvements in communicating with and about people with disabilities is “People-First” Language. People-First Language emphasizes the person, not the disability. Catch-all phrases such as ‘the blind’, ‘the deaf’ or ‘the disabled’, do not reflect the individuality, equality, or dignity of people with disabilities.

Since 2007, AKP and our A&K guests have supported the first school in Arusha, Tanzania designed to meet the needs of children with disabilities. When we launched this program 10 years ago, it was named the Ilboru School for the Deaf and Disabled. AKP acknowledges that we must be mindful and evolve with current practices of inclusion and respect. As such, the Ilboru School for the Deaf and Disabled program has been renamed the Ilboru School for Children with Special Needs. When discussing this program with others, we encourage our A&K community to also think inclusively and use People-First Language.

Click on the link for more information about People First Language.