Healthline Media makes no assumptions. Making assumptions reinforces harmful stereotypes and can alienate people from accessing the care they need. And we know that everyone is different and has unique needs.
Our disability content is truthful, uplifting, and warm. It embraces a range of emotions and experiences and aims to meet our readers exactly where they are.
Blindness and Deafness
All that said, we recognize and acknowledge that certain communities prefer identity-first language
This treats disability as an identity category. It means that the identifying word or phrase comes first in a sentence and highlights the person’s or group’s acceptance of their identity. (“Blind children like to play.“)
when referring to the following conditions:
Using identity-first language means saying “a blind person” instead of “a person who is blind.” It also means saying “a deaf person” instead of “a person who is deaf.”
Identity-first language uses an individual’s chosen descriptors first, before the pronoun. People who prefer this argue that their condition is an inherent part of their identity, not something that passively happened to them.
Our list of cases in which we use identity-first language may evolve and change over time. We review these guidelines regularly to ensure that our content stays up to date. Our consultation process is ongoing, and we continue to listen to feedback from communities and readers.
If you’re wheelchair-bound, you might have a harder time getting around → If you use a wheelchair, navigating certain areas can be tricky
People with physical disabilities are at risk of having a lower quality of life → Some people with physical disabilities may be more likely to experience a lower quality of life
Developmental issues for a fetus
Infants born with birth defects may have harder childhoods → The developmental issues an infant experiences might influence their first few years of life
Person without a disability
Healthy people are more likely to have longer careers → Due to having fewer barriers in their daily lives, people without disabilities may have longer careers
Associating certain types of sexual activity with a person’s moral character has historically led to groups being excluded from society or being seen as “abnormal” or “amoral.”
Using neutral language in sexual health does not make suggestions as to who someone is as a person. Rather, it provides information in a way that does not shame, judge, or assign blame.
Providing accurate, empathetic, and non-judgmental sexual health information is the first step in preventing unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and HIV through the promotion of healthy sexual behaviors.
Many people with disabilities don’t feel held back by their condition or diagnosis. Instead, in a lot of cases, what holds them back is having limited access to empowering media and not having supportive connections with people going through similar experiences.
We’re working to build a stronger, healthier world that is inclusive of every person. Including people with disabilities in every piece of the narrative is key to this mission.
Our Disability Guiding Principles
While it would be much easier to list the definitive do’s and don’ts of language, that is not possible — context is critical. Language is always changing and evolving, and any list would soon be out of date. This is why we're always listening for changes. Additionally, there are no definitively "right" or "wrong" answers about what language to use. Context is important, and what works for us might not work for you. While specific word choices will change over time, our community approach first ensures that we are prioritizing those who are the most important to what we do: our readers. See full approach here.