Person First language guidelines

In This Section

As a member of the media, you play a hugely important role in how society views a person with Down syndrome.

We promote the use of Person First language at all times.  To use person first language, simply say the person’s name or use a pronoun first, follow it with the appropriate verb, and then state the name of the disability. When referring to an individual, always describe them as a person with Down syndrome. The correct terminology is capital “D” for Down and small “s” for syndrome e.g. Joe Bloggs is a person with Down syndrome.

References to “a Downs” / “Down syndrome person” are no longer in use. Using person first language shifts our focus from the disability to the person who has dignity, feelings and rights. This subtle but powerful language shift helps us view people with disabilities as capable and deserving of respect.

Press articles, a photograph, a TV interview….they have the power to either breakdown or reinforce negative stereotypes.



When talking or writing about Down syndrome, please check out the following Dos and Don’ts:


Please do not say

A Downs person / baby/child

Suffers from or is a victim of Down syndrome



Downs (as an abbreviation)

Do say

Person/baby/child with Down syndrome or who has Down syndrome

Has Down syndrome

Learning disability / intellectual disability

Condition OR genetic condition

DS (as an abbreviation if necessary)