- Beyond the AP Stylebook: Language and Usage Guide for Reporters and Editors from Ragged Edge Online
The 1987 edition of the Associated Press Stylebook for the first time contained an entry under "handicapped". The appearance of the category was the result of work by disability organizations – primarily the Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas – to change the way in which reporters and editors wrote about disability.
The Stylebook was a start. Since then, many disability organizations have produced sets of guidelines for avoiding demeaning and sensationalized words and phrases when writing about people with disabilities. The fact that so many groups see this as an area for concern should alert journalists to the fact that the way they use words does matter. Two simple rules should be kept in mind when writing stories about people who have disabilities:
- Avoid cliches and cliched constructions.
- Use value-neutral terms and constructions. Don't interject your admiration – or pity – into your story.
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