If you are looking for more information on the disability movement in Canada, would like to interview a staff on a relevant news issue, feature a story about intellectual disability, or other media inquiries, please contact CACL staff at 416-661-9611 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guidelines on Reporting on a Person with an Intellectual Disability
- It is not always relevant to the article to mention that a person has a disability. If and when it is, identify the person first and then the disability and move on (i.e. use person-centered language).
- Emphasize the ability rather than the limitation. Say that a person has a disability rather than he or she is disabled. People are not defined by their disability.
- Avoid using emotional words like “suffers”, “afflicted”, or “victim”, speaking of disability as “a disease”, or families who are “burdened.” People with an intellectual disability do not consider themselves to be victims who are sick or suffering.
- Avoid depicting people with a disability who succeed as “extraordinary”. Overemphasizing a person’s achievements may suggest that original expectations of people with disabilities are low.
- Portray the person as he or she is. For example, a person with an intellectual disability may be a student, employee, parent or family member, artist, or an athlete.
- People with an intellectual disability do not want to be recipients of pity or charity.
- Avoid comparing the actual age of a person with an intellectual disability to their “mental age”. This is discriminatory language.
- When interviewing a person with an intellectual disability who does not use words to speak (sometimes described as “non-verbal”), always speak directly to them, rather than to their support person or aide.
- Speak in a normal tone of voice and do not use language that is condescending.
- A person with an intellectual disability may need longer or sufficient time to respond to your question.
- If a person asks you to repeat the question, consider using plain language.
- Ask the person to repeat themselves if you do not understand them.
- Do not assume that a person who has an intellectual disability also has a physical disability.
The International Labour Organization’s brochure “Reporting on disability: Guidelines for the media” is an excellent tool for professional communicators to promote inclusiveness in writing and the fair and accurate portrayal of people with disabilities.
A communication is in plain language if its wording, structure, and design are so clear that the intended audience can easily find what they need, understand what they find, and use that information. For guidelines in producing plain language documents and resources, Inclusion International’s global resource can be found here.
CACL Press Releases
- PRESS RELEASE: Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy Promising for People with an Intellectual Disability – September 12, 2018
- PRESS RELEASE: Canada’s Medical Assistance in Dying Regulations Fall Short – September 4, 2018
- PRESS RELEASE: Pardon for Robert Latimer Would Condone Murder and Disregard the Lives of Persons with Disabilities – July 12, 2018
- PRESS RELEASE: Accessible Canada Act & Enhancement to the Opportunities Fund Offers Significant Progress for Persons with an Intellectual Disability & Their Families – June 21, 2018
- PRESS RELEASE: Changes Welcome to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, But Still More Work To Eliminate Discriminatory Policy – April 17, 2018
- PRESS RELEASE: Proposed Opportunities Act Would Have Positive Effects for Persons with an Intellectual Disability – February 8, 2018
- PRESS RELEASE: Inclusive Education Canada Partners with Microsoft to Strengthen Inclusive Education Through Accessible Technology – February 1, 2018
- PRESS RELEASE: National Housing Strategy Makes Historic Investment – 2400 New Affordable Housing Units for People with Developmental Disabilities – November 22, 2017
- PRESS RELEASE: Nova Scotia Heading to Reject Charter Rights of People with Disabilities – October 17, 2017
- PRESS RELEASE: Nova Scotia Bill – An Alarming Violation of Human Rights – October 2, 2017
- PRESS RELEASE: Canadian Mental Health Association Says No to Medical Assistance in Dying Solely on the Basis of Mental Illness – September 7, 2017
- PRESS RELEASE: Mental Health-Related Suicides and Growing Numbers with Dementia Not a Reason to Expand Access to Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia – April 18, 2017
- PRESS RELEASE: UN Calls on Canada to Create National Action Plan to Ensure Rights of Canadians with Disabilities – April 13, 2017
- Federal Budget 2017: Positive Steps for Canadians with Disabilities Accountabilities Needed to Ensure Inclusion and Accessibility – April 3, 2017
- PRESS RELEASE: Law Commission of Ontario Rejects Proposals to Advance Rights of People who have an Intellectual Disability – March 8, 2017
- ANNONCE: Zero Project souligne la contribution de l’initiative canadienne Prêts, disponibles et capables pour l’innovation de politiques en matière d’emploi en 2017 – February 24, 2017
- PRESS RELEASE: Zero Project Highlights Canada’s Ready, Willing & Able Initiative as a 2017 Innovative Policy on Employment – February 24, 2017
- PRESS RELEASE: Inclusive Education Canada Partners with Microsoft to Strengthen Inclusive Education – February 15, 2017
- ANNONCE: L’ACIC nomme une nouvelle vice-présidente à la direction – February 6, 2017
- Canadian Association for Community Living Appoints Krista Carr as Executive Vice-President – February 6, 2017
- PRESS RELEASE: Report on National Housing Strategy Holds Promise for the 100,000 Canadians with Intellectual Disabilities – November 22, 2016
- ANNONCE: Changements à la direction générale – August 8, 2016
- Press Release: Coming Changes in Executive Leadership – August 8, 2016
- Press Release: Essential Next Steps in Medical Aid in Dying – Vigilance, Safeguards & Obligation – June 22, 2016
- Tourism HR Canada and Ready, Willing and Able Announce Partnership Agreement – June 20, 2016
- Press Release: A Call to Parliamentarians from the National Disability Rights Community ‘To Pass Bill C-14 to Ensure Constitutional Rights of Vulnerable Persons’ – May 31, 2016
- Draft Bill on Medical Assistance in Dying Seeks Delicate Balance: Some Progress Being Made – April 14, 2016
- Report Calls for ‘Vulnerability Lens’ in Federal Legislation for Physician-Assisted Death – April 8, 2016
- Federal Budget Sends Strong Message for an Inclusive Canada Accessible to People with Disabilities – March 24, 2016
- Report Finds Current Proposals Won’t Safeguard Vulnerable Persons in System for Physician-Assisted Suicide – January 22, 2016
- Federal Report: Majority of Canadians Support Strong Safeguards for Physician-Assisted Suicide – January 19, 2016
- Vulnerable Persons at Risk of Abuse in System for Physician-Assisted Suicide, Without More Time to Develop Safeguards – January 11, 2016