Adam Schmuki, a linguistics graduate student at Arizona State University, studies the language and narratives people use on Twitter to refer to disability. A wheelchair user himself, Schmuki became interested in the subject earlier this year when he came across the hashtag #AbledsAreWeird. The hashtag gained popularity among Twitter’s disability community in late March as a way to normalize people with disabilities, who are often regarded by outsiders as “other.”
Click here to read more about Adam Schmuki’s research on language used to discuss disability on Twitter.
Thanks for the shout out, Columbia Journalism Review! A recent CJR article about disability terminology mentions our disability language style guide as a resource for journalists and writers who cover disability issues. Click here to read the CJR article online.
Author, investigative journalist and Columbia J-school professor Stephen Fried will teach a new nonfiction writing course at University of Pennsylvania next semester. The course, which which will focus on writing about mental health and addiction, will be among the first undergraduate coursesof its kind in the U.S.
Students taking the spring class, titled “Advanced Nonfiction Writing: Writing about Mental Health and Addiction,” will hear from guest lecturers and will read and discuss writings about behavioral health.
After covering mental health as a journalist for years, Fried said he understands the importance of teaching students how to report on these topics in a nuanced way. Uninformed writing about this subject matter can perpetuate the stigma surrounding mental illness and seeking psychiatric help.
Fried is the author of numerous books about the prescription drug industry and mental illness. In 2015 he co-authored Patrick Kennedy’s memoir A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction.
As journalist and NCDJ disability language style guide author Amy Silverman writes, “Disability journalism is a hot beat right now. But just because you’re covering disability doesn’t mean you’re doing it right.”
In a column for Phi Delta Kappan, a professional journal for teachers, Silverman discusses the challenges of reporting in schools and the ways in which journalists still far short when it comes to telling relevant and nuanced stories about people with disabilities. Read more of Amy Silverman’s column online.
Learn about the concept of “inspiration porn” in this video of journalist and comedian Stella Young’s talk at TEDxSydney:
The National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State University has released its popular disability language style guide in Spanish.
The NCDJ, which is headquartered at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, provides guidance and support for journalists and communications professionals as they write about and report on disability issues and people with disabilities.
The style guide was recently updated to contain nearly 200 words and terms commonly used when referring to people with disabilities.
“The guide is used around the world but until now has been available primarily in English,” said NCDJ Executive Director Kristin Gilger, the senior associate dean at the Cronkite School. “The new Spanish-language version will make it possible for us to reach far more people with advice on disability-related language choices.”
She said the guide is not prescriptive. Instead, recommendations are intended to help communications professionals avoid offensive language while also being clear and accurate.
The Spanish translation of the guide was made possible by a grant from the Ford Foundation, which provides support for NCDJ programs and services.
In addition to the style guide, the center administers an annual contest recognizing the best reporting on disability in the country and provides training and resources for journalists, public relations professionals, educators and others concerned about how people with disability are portrayed.
Both the English and Spanish versions of the disability language style guide are available in downloadable format at https://ncdj.org/style-guide/.
Earlier this week the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) featured our disability language style guide on its Journalist’s Toolbox website, which highlights digital resources to help journalists in their reporting. As the SPJ site points out, a Spanish-language version of the NCDJ style guide is now available on NCDJ.org. Journalists can access the guide in both languages on our website.
The Ford Foundation has produced a short video that shows why disability rights are central to social justice work. You can read more about the Ford Foundation’s policy about including disabled people in their work here. To watch the video on the Foundation’s Facebook page, click here.
Do you love writing, language and disability communication? Then check out our newest version of the NCDJ “Terminology Quiz” to test your knowledge of disability lingo. Even if you identify as a person with disabilities or work for and with people with disabilities you may be surprised which phrases are gaining popularity. For further reading, check out our complete “NCDJ Disability Language Style Guide.”