Spinal Cord Injury Ontario

Voices Blog

Our Lexicon – Let’s Keep Communication Inclusive

 In conversation, inappropriate words are like bricks. When used continuously and purposefully, we can build up large walls; walls which divide and isolate people. We believe inclusive language completes the picture of an equitable and conscious Ontario. We use accurate diction among our staff, families, clients and greater community, and in doing so, we remove the disrespectful terms which make people feel excluded. As a general principle, we encourage language that does not present a spinal cord injury as the defining feature of a person. For example;

Instead of saying “my friend is quadriplegic,” try “my friend has quadriplegia.”

By using “my friend has,” instead of “my friend is,” you are separating a person’s identity from their spinal cord injury. Your friend is many more things than “quadriplegic” and using the right language ensure everyone, including your friend, understands their complexity as a person.  Here is another example:

Instead of saying “my friend is crippled,” try “my friend lives with a spinal cord injury.”

Words like “cripple” or “crippled” are outdated. Using old and offensive language creates division, unfairly labels people and reaffirms a lack of understanding regarding people with spinal cord injuries. Let’s keep communication inclusive for all. Download our preferred disability lexicon for more information.

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