Thursday, September 30, 2021

Writing About Disabled People Requires We Listen to More Than Just the Style Guides

In this recent Publishers Weekly article, How the AP Stylebook Considers Language on Disability, disabled Canadian journalist John Loeppky summarizes the April 2021 AP "revision and expansion" of guidance on writing about disabled people -- and the social media-vented frustrations of disabled people about the guidelines, which led to the guidelines being updated once again. 

John writes,

“This whole situation reminds me that it is a moral imperative to go beyond the style guide—to take it as our duty to shepherd the stories of those we are writing about, even if they are fictional, with the utmost of care and attention.”

and offers some examples of writers continuing in huge numbers to use problematic language, including,

“‘Wheelchair-bound’ (as opposed to ‘wheelchair user,’ the preferred term)”

And urges us,

“We can’t allow style guides to be the ultimate deciders of writer morality. We have to ask better of ourselves. As writers, I’d like to think our responsibility is to subject and audience. No audience is served best when the term wheelchair bound is used.”

The full article is well worth reading.

Illustrate, Translate, and Write On,

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