2014 Recipient

Name: Kelsey Lauersen

Institution: Mount Allison University

E-mail: kslauersen1@gmail.com

Paper title

Narrative Identity’s Challenge to People-First Language 


Drawing on Kim Atkin’s narrative identity theory, I argue that people-first language is harmful to disabled persons. First, I look at the properties of people-first language and elucidate the principles of narrative identity, as conceptualized by Atkins. Then, I situate people-first language in the context of a disabled person’s narrative identity by drawing on the experiences of disabled persons, including my own experience of being deaf. In so doing, I argue that people-first language promotes a fractured identity for disabled persons, which limits moral agency and is inherently harmful. 


narrative identity; disability; people-first language; moral agency; self-hood