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Welcome to the NBACL Media Center. The links to the left aim to provide journalists with useful information about NBACL and includes such information as: NBACL’s history, our position statements, and how to interview a person with an intellectual disability.

If you are looking for more information on the disability movement in New Brunswick, would like to interview a staff on a relevant news issue, or feature a story about intellectual disability, please contact our Director of Marketing and Communications, Gina Wilkins.

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Guidelines on Reporting on a Person with an Intellectual Disability

Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when interviewing or reporting on a person with an intellectual disability:

  • It is not always relevant to the article to mention that a person has a disability. If and when it is, identify the person first and then the disability and move on.
  • Don’t feel that you have to monitor every word and action. It is more important to act naturally.
  • Emphasize the ability rather than the limitation. Say that a person has a disability rather than he or she is disabled. People do not want to be defined by their disability.
  • Avoid using emotional words like “suffers” “afflicted” or “victim”, or that the disability is “a disease” or the families are “burdened.” People with an intellectual disability do not consider themselves to be sick or suffering.
  • Avoid depicting people with a disability who succeed as “extraordinary”. Overemphasizing a person’s achievements may suggest that the original expectations were low.
  • Portray the person as he or she is. For example, a person with an intellectual disability may be a student, employee, parent or family member, artist, or an athlete.
  • People with an intellectual disability do not want to be recipients of pity or charity.
  • Avoid comparing the actual age of a person with an intellectual disability to their “mental age.”
  • When interviewing a person with an intellectual disability who is “non-verbal,” always speak directly to them, rather than to their support person or aide.
  • Speak in a normal tone of voice and do not use language that is condescending.
  • A person with an intellectual disability may need your patience, so give the person sufficient time to respond to your question.
  • If a person asks you to repeat the question, consider using plain language.
  • Ask the person to repeat themselves if you do not understand them.
  • Do not assume that a person who has an intellectual disability also has a physical disability.
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