What’s The Arc’s Position On…?
The Arc’s position statements address critical issues related to human and civil rights, health care, and services and programs for children and adults with IDD and their families. Please browse through them if you need insights into key areas of focus for the disability community, important data, and/or a better way to frame your story.
Our History & Name
Throughout its history, The Arc’s name has gone through many changes, but one thing is certain: respecting people with disabilities is essential. That’s why The Arc should never be used as an acronym. In your stories, always refer to us as The Arc, not The ARC or ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a phrase.
The Arc advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy, and other diagnoses. Founded in 1950 by parents who believed their children with IDD deserved more, The Arc is now a network of nearly 600 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with IDD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community
Guides on Reporting on Disability
The language you use in your reporting plays a powerful role in the respect, equity, and unfortunately ongoing stigmatization of people with disabilities. Please use the below guides as a starting place to ensure accurate, neutral, and ethical reporting.
- A Journalist’s Guide to Disability for Election 2024
- 5 Disability Stories Journalists Should Be Covering Right Now
- National Center on Disability and Journalism
- The Journalist’s Resource
- Disability Matters: A Toolkit for Newsrooms
On Person First vs. Identity First Language
One in four adults in the United States have a disability. It’s our nation’s largest minority group and the only one that anyone can join at any time. People with disabilities also have diverse and intersecting identities. Everyone is represented: all genders, all ages, all religions, all socioeconomic levels, and all ethnic backgrounds. That’s why the language used to describe people with disabilities is very individualistic.
Person-first language emphasizes the person, not the disability. By placing the person first, the disability is no longer the primary, defining characteristic of an individual, but one of several aspects of the whole person. Alternatively, identity-first language emphasizes a person’s disability as a core part of their identity.
When interviewing a person with a disability, you should always ask how they prefer to be identified. For most IDD communities, if your story doesn’t focus on one person, we recommend using person-first language. Within the autism community, many self-advocates prefer and appreciate the use of identity-first language (i.e., autistic person).
On the Use of “Special Needs”
“Special needs” is used with good intentions, but it’s vague, outdated, and over time it has become offensive to many. People with disabilities have human needs, not special needs. Please say “disability” in its place.
Representation in the Media
Media representation of people with disabilities lags far behind every other marginalized group. When people with disabilities are featured, they are often negatively stereotyped, featured as a burden or source of inspiration, or reduced to one aspect of their identity. The lack of representation and negative tropes are causing harm to disabled people, such as deep health disparities and exclusion from community life. The fact is that disability intersects with every issue, because people with disabilities exist in every community. Please consider looking for disability angles in the issues you cover, as well as putting forth accurate portrayals that present a respectful, positive view of people with disabilities. We can help connect you to people who can share their firsthand lived experiences.
The Arc in the News
Here’s a look at some recent stories our experts or storytellers were featured in.
- Delay in Finding Man with Down Syndrome Reveals Gap in Alert System (Washington Post)
- Senators Introduce Bill To End Saving Penalty For People With Disabilities (Investopedia)
- Use of Electric Shocks on Disabled People Upheld by Court (Bloomberg Law)
- The 19th Explains: The Supreme Court case that could gut the Americans with Disabilities Act (The 19th)
- Social Security Overpays Billions to People, Many on Disability. Then It Demands the Money Back. (KFF Health News)
- The Americans With Disabilities Act Is Under Threat at the Supreme Court (Slate)
- The Other Work Remote Workers Get Done (The Atlantic)
- A New Device Could Help Students with Disabilities Navigate Technology (EdTech)
- How the Mental Health Crisis Impacts Americans With Disabilities (NBC News Daily)
- Oklahomans With Disabilities Face Long Waitlists For Home And Community-Based Services (PBS Newshour)
- Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Nursing Home Patient Rights (Axios)
- Improving Law Enforcement Response to Persons With Intellectual And Developmental Disabilities (Policing Matters Podcast)
- Equity in IDEA: Why Racial Disparities Are Increasing in Special Ed Programs (K-12 Dive)
- What to Do When Your Kid Stares at Someone Different (Good Housekeeping)
- Democrats Seek To Expand Access To Home And Community Services For Disabled People (HuffPost)
- New Voting Laws Add Difficulties for People With Disabilities (New York Times)
- 5 Helpful Tips For Explaining Autism to Kids And Teens (INSIDER)
- Americans With Disabilities Need An Updated Long-Term Care Plan (NPR)