We all find ourselves wanting to be categorized and identified with nomenclature that is inclusive and empowering. We want products made specifically for us, that cater to our needs and are designed with us in mind. Empathy and understanding on the part of the designer becomes incredibly important as we look to create and design user-first products. Part of this empathy includes researching and understanding the cultural nomenclature of the consumers.
As we launch the Allianz Adaptive Sports category and the Elevated Mobility Concept Design Challenge we’d like to ask our community to research, understand and empathize with those who they will be designing for.
To help you start this research we’ve compiled some general nomenclature relating to the project at hand...
When referring to people with disabilities, it is often most accepted to reference them in a person-first manner. By stating that someone is a “person with a disability”, we are noting that the fact that they have a disability is just a label and not an overall defining characteristic of the person. By doing this, it helps us to see the person’s disability as secondary to their humanity. Just as a person’s skin color should not be a defining characteristic to their humanity, neither should their disability.
One term to stay away from when referencing people with disabilities is ‘handicapped’. Instead of generalizing, it is more helpful to refer to the person’s specific condition. We would appreciate if you would remember to use a person-first approach in your speech. For example, saying “John is a person who is disabled and uses a wheelchair” tends to come across better then “John is a disabled person and wheelchair-bound”.
If you’re interested in learning more about preferred terms, check out the National Center on Disability and Journalism who has an incredible guide for terminology and nomenclature.
Join us in this Challenge as we look at extreme sports with a fresh perspective to imagine new sports or competitive activities not currently designed for athletes of all abilities. We'll start this work with a Concept Design Challenge for a sporting device and rules for how it would be used.