The National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State University has developed a style guide for journalists who report or write about people living with disabilities. We have included a link to the guide under the training tab on the RTDNA.org website for easy reference.
The guide offers information and advice on commonly used words or terms, from “able-bodied” to “confined to a wheelchair.” In addition, the guide provides a brief background on each word or term and touches on instances in which disability organizations disagree on usage. It also notes whether or not the word or term is addressed in The Associated Press Stylebook. Two-thirds of the entries in the NCDJ guide are not covered in the AP Stylebook.
Along with the guide, the NCDJ also has created a companion piece, “Terms to Avoid When Writing About Disability.” The article offers advice to communicators on why they should avoid using terms such as “epileptic fit” or “senile” and directs them to more neutral language.
The NCDJ was founded in 1998 in San Francisco as the Disability Media Project to raise awareness of how the news media cover people with disabilities. The organization was renamed in 2000 and moved to the Cronkite School in 2009.
NCDJ’s disability style guide is available on the organization’s website or as a printable PDF at http://ncdj.org/style-guide/