While letters, names, and meaning come up a lot in conversation when talking about VSA 
(any VSA in the country!), there are some trends in vocabulary that we have accepted as 
common best practices when discussing topics relating to disability.


Image taken from a blog by wufnikspress@gmail.com


We recently came across a short and simple video that humorously emphasizes the importance of avoiding certain terms when referring to a person with a disability. While the concepts in this video are nothing new, we thought mentioning it as well as a few other resources online that have been floating around lately was a great idea!

After ReelAbilities Columbus, we find that it's even more relevant to promote positive and inclusive language not only on the silver screen through film but in our every day interactions. In addition to these tidbits of culture taken from various websites and sources, we also refer back to the clause we have posted on our website in the"About" section. Given that many people still refer to us as "Very Special Arts," now is a great time to remind everyone why we stick with "VSA Ohio" and try to move away from using the word "special" in any conversation about disability.

VSA was long known as Very Special Arts. Words such as "special and "handicapped" do not reflect current language trends in
the United States and many other countries. We are now VSA Ohio - The State Organization on Arts and Disability. We encourage everyone to embrace our new identity.


This other blogpost discusses a viral TedTalk from 2010 that featured the story of a female Paralympic athlete as she explores the power of words in relation to what they connote/denote about disability, especially her own. What connections to see between this athlete's perspective and some of those revealed during ReelAbilities Columbus 2013?

Another post written by a feminist disability blogger breaks down individual words in what she calls,"Ableist Word Profiles." In this instance, she dissects the word "special" and tries to examine the implications of using this word to refer to both children and adults. How do you feel about her opinions concerning this word and others like it? Beyond the blogosphere, journalists and writers of other formats must explore the language used when talking about disability.

In terms of a style guide that is recommended for anyone working in PR and Journalism, this guide from the National Center on Disability and Journalism serves as a spectacular starting point for recommended language when speaking or writing about disability across all kinds of platforms.

While these posts and articles are nowhere near an exhaustive list, we thought that some of the questions they raise and information they provide is relevant and useful as we move on from ReelAbilities and forward into our next round of programming for the coming year!