Say What You Mean: Rethinking Disability Language in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly

in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly
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Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly (APAQ) currently mandates that authors use person-first language in their publications. In this viewpoint article, we argue that although this policy is well intentioned, it betrays a very particular cultural and disciplinary approach to disability: one that is inappropriate given the international and multidisciplinary mandate of the journal. Further, we contend that APAQ’s current language policy may serve to delimit the range of high-quality articles submitted and to encourage both theoretical inconsistency and the erasure of the ways in which research participants self-identify. The article begins with narrative accounts of each of our negotiations with disability terminology in adapted physical activity research and practice. We then provide historical and theoretical contexts for person-first language, as well as various other widely circulated alternative English-language disability terminology. We close with four suggested revisions to APAQ’s language policy.

Danielle Peers, Nancy Spencer-Cavaliere, and Lindsay Eales are in the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Address author correspondence to Danielle Peers at peers@ualberta.ca.