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Internal: Shared Language at Triangle, Inc.

Triangle, Inc.’s Disability Justice Task Force (DJTF) was formed to address injustices and inequalities brought about by ableism. One of the foundational initiatives of the DJTF is to produce a shared language manual to ensure the use of language that is inclusive and promotes dignity.

This is a summarized version of the full, extended guide.


This guide will serve as a reference point for words and/or phrases regarding human services and how we use them at Triangle. It includes preferred and dignifying words to describe people or situations and definitions of common words/phrases. This is a summarized version of the full, extended guide.

Language and Identity

This guide was created in collaboration with the members of the Triangle, Inc.’s Disability Justice Task Force. Language is a living, evolving device of communication, and it is constantly changing. The language in this guide is based on the current understanding of what is appropriate and preferred by the greater Disability community. Different groups within the Disability community may have their preferred language, and each individual person will have the language they are comfortable with and use. Our mission is not to correct the language of a group or individual, but instead to create a guide for staff.

Please respect the preferred language of the people you work with and encounter daily, only correcting if their language is especially grievous or harmful to others based on race, religion, nationality, disability, sexuality, gender, etc.

Person First Language vs. Identity First Language

Person First Language puts the person before the disability.


  • A person with a disability
  • A person with an intellectual disability

Identity First Language puts the person’s Disability Identity first.


  • A disabled person
  • An autistic person

Which one should I use?

At first, you should use whatever language you feel most comfortable using. Both Person First and Identity First Language are acceptable. Once you know how a person self-identifies, you should use the language they use to self-identify.

Disability Language: Use This, Not That

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