Friday, 11 April 2014
After the success of the "happy" video for World DS Day, I pledged to a friend, on facebook, that the next time I saw a "suffers from" headline I'd be onto it. I didn't have to wait long. The original title of an article said: "Luis Suarez stops to play football with Down's Syndrome sufferer". But I pointed out that the boy probably wasn't suffering at that point. I actually clicked on the email that goes to "corrections and clarifications". Well, they were fantastic and within minutes had rewritten the title. Here it is.
This is important because the article, on an American site, went on to be syndicated on many other news/sports sites. Luis Suarez needs all the good publicity he can get, and this was a human-interest story that's not usually associated with him. So it has 'legs' as a story.
Therefore, it was good to nip this in the bud.
The editor did confirm that they were using journalese, but had the grace and emotional intelligence to immediately understand what I was saying. So, if you get one organisation to nudge their 'style guide', that's good.
Why so important? Aren't people with DS referred to this way every day.....and isn't it usually much worse?
With words, I'm usually less bothered than some people....usually. It's just that, in the week where people with Down's were shown to be...oh so normal, it jarred. And I know that the use of words is very important to many people. Just tell someone who uses a wheelchair that they're 'wheelchair-bound' and expect an animated response.
It's good to think that we can change attitudes by changing some words. (Of course there's so much else to do). Because the title of the article is now much more empowering, less patronising, and, dare I say it, dynamite for Luis Suarez's PR machine.
Well done to the Bleacher Report, who runs this site. One small victory.
Posted by Steve Palmer at 00:13