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April 5, 2010

Political Correctness, Common Sense or Just Plain Kindness and Sensitivity?

Filed under: General HR Buzz — Tags: 2:06 pm

Rahm Emanuel, the White House Chief of Staff, recently got himself into trouble by calling some folks “%^*&^  retarded.”

That set off a firestorm among some advocates for disabled individuals.  Emanuel has since apologized.

The U.S. Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has published some suggested guidelines on how to relate to and communicate with and about people with disabilities.   ODEP’s point is that “words do matter” and that “when writing or speaking about people with disabilities, it is important to put the person first.

Group designations such as “the blind,” “the retarded” or “the disabled” are inappropriate because they do not reflect the individuality, equality or dignity of people with disabilities. Further, words like “normal person” imply that the person with a disability isn’t normal.”  While there can certainly be too much political correctness, a little respect, kindness, and sensitivity is always a good thing.

The following ODEP chart provides examples of positive and negative comments. For more information go to:


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