First Advisor

Tiffany Jones

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English and University Honors




People with disabilities




Person First Language has been around for thirty years yet remains confined to the borders of government agencies, special education classrooms, and professional psychology. Beginning here in Salem, Oregon as an offshoot of the People First Movement (Wehmeyer, Bersani, & Gagne, 2000), a self-advocacy group for persons with disabilities at Fairview Rehabilitation Center. It has since grown from an isolated appeal into an international movement and is the current accepted terminology in the APA and reflects in the language of all pertinent government acts (ADA, IDEA, etc.). Despite all these well intended improvements everyday use of PFL by non-laypersons has not increased, even when the disabled community asks for it. This paper reviews the existing literature and data on Person First Language to discover why and seeks to determine means of increasing Person First Language awareness and use. Since the literature and studies have been extremely limited on PFL and spanning a broad range of disciplines, they have been condensed and presented in this comprehensive review. A survey has also been developed and proposed to test the efficacy of PFL awareness training to perhaps fill this gap in our current understanding.


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