This Canadian-based guide from DSRF provides updated recommendations on language to use and to avoid when speaking to and about people with disabilities and specifically Down syndrome.

This guide can also be used to reflect upon the terms you currently use, and encourage you to make changes within yourself and your communities.

Every community, including the Down syndrome community, is made up of individuals who have their own unique preferences on language and how they identify.

If you are unsure of someone’s preferred language, follow their lead and use the language they are using. Some people with Down syndrome prefer terms like “special needs” or identity-first language such as, “I’m a Down syndrome guy.”

If you are unsure, ask. Invite people to share how they would like to be referred to by saying, “Tell me about yourself and how you would like to be described.”

Ultimately, the very best practice is to honour each individual’s preference.

Available for download

preferred-language-guide (29.78 KB) Download PDF