VISTAS Online is an innovative publication produced for ACA by Dr. Garry R. Walz and Dr. Jeanne C. Bleuer of Counseling Outfitters, LLC. Its purpose is to provide a means of capturing the ideas, information and experiences generated by the annual ACA Conference and selected ACA Division Conferences. Papers on a program or practice that has been validated through research or experience may also be submitted. This digital collection of peer-reviewed articles is authored by counselors, for counselors. VISTAS Online contains the full text of over 900 proprietary counseling articles published from 2004 to 2017.
Person-First Language Training Needed in Higher Education
Vickie Ann McCoy and Paul G. DeCecco
The present study was conducted to examine whether or not college students use person-first language to describe persons with disabilities. Two hundred and forty-three respondents completed self-report measures of their demographics as part of a larger data collection. Respondents were also asked to list “a type of person with a disability” on one of the instruments used for the larger data collection and these responses were examined and categorized as person-first language or not. The results revealed that the majority of the students used stigmatizing language, rather than the more empowering person-first language. Though the findings of this simple study revealed a problem with the language choices used by college students to describe persons with disabilities, it does not address why the students used inappropriate descriptors for persons with disabilities. The authors acknowledge that more detailed studies exploring language choice and attitude toward disabilities are needed. However, the results of this relatively simple analysis are discussed in regard to social stigma, language sensitivity, and the training of college students majoring in human services professions.