Explore Resources banner image

Media Tips When Interviewing Persons Living with Disability

Roughly one in four Americans today lives with a disability. It’s likely that all of us know someone who has a disability – or will develop a disability – at some point in life.

Disability is defined as any visible, invisible, emotional, social and educational challenges that are a part of normal, everyday life. Disability can refer to a medical diagnosis, a barrier and/or a person’s identity.

When referring to those living with a disability, some people prefer person-first language, which puts the person before the disability (e.g., person living with autism, child with autism) while others prefer identity-first language (e.g., autistic person, ), as they feel their disability is an integral part of who they are. If possible, ask the person, or parent, what they prefer. If that is not an option, or they do not have a preference, it is encouraged to always use person-first language (e.g., a child with autism).

Basic principles of disability etiquette:

Disability etiquette when you're with people in wheelchairs:

Disability etiquette when you're with people with vision impairments:

Disability etiquette when you're with people with a hearing impairment:

Always recognize that an interview is a highly unusual setting. This can be amplified when you’re preparing to work with a person with a disability. Individual prep before any media interview is strongly encouraged. To ensure success, the reporter should take time either before the interview or schedule a prep phone call with people close to the interviewee to ask a few key questions, including:

Be sure to notify the interviewee if there are problems with the location. Discuss what to do and make alternate plans.

Powered by Blackbaud
nonprofit software