Meet Matt, who loves to sing, has a great work ethic, excels at counting and listens to sports radio. The client of Sherwood Community Services, who is blind, also enjoys his part-time job as a production worker at Innovative Salon Products where he’s responsible for quality control and packaging.

Meet Matt, who loves to sing, has a great work ethic, excels at counting and listens to sports radio. The client of Sherwood Community Services, who is blind, also enjoys his part-time job as a production worker at Innovative Salon Products where he’s responsible for quality control and packaging.

A simple adjustment can change lives.

Words matter – Take a moment to consider the words you use

Words have more impact than we think. Consider the words you use regularly: How do you describe a person from another culture, someone who is aging, a person who experiences poverty? How about a child or adult with a disability?

Meet Matt. Matt loves to sing. He enjoys singing to top-40 hits and the oldies. He has a great work ethic, excels at counting and quality control and listens to sports radio.

Matt is also blind. But being blind doesn’t define him. If anything defines him it’s his singing and his part-time job as a production worker at Innovative Salon Products where he’s responsible for quality control and packaging. Matt enjoys his job, where he’s included in a team environment and treated just like everyone else. As he should be.

Sherwood has been part of Matt’s life for decades. Sherwood helped Matt find his current job and previous jobs over the years. And there are many people just like Matt who have benefitted from Sherwood, whose philosophy is “Believing in Abilities.” Sherwood wants everyone in the community to believe in abilities too, focusing on the positive characteristics of people.

It starts with the words used to describe someone, says Lance Morehouse, Sherwood’s CEO. Is the person being described as handicapped? Or are they being described by their music skills, work ethic or love of comic books?

“Historically, people with disabilities have been considered second-class citizens,” Morehouse says. “We used to institutionalize people, keeping them away from society.”

Services and supports are now provided inclusively in the community, he says. “But society may still have this perception of people with disabilities as needing to be taken care of.”

The only way to overcome that view is to be respectful to people with disabilities and welcome them into the community. “People with disabilities are contributing members of our diverse communities,” Morehouse says.

Morehouse suggests the use of “Person First Language.” When someone with a disability is viewed as a person first, that fosters a positive attitude toward that person.

For example, when a person uses the word autistic as the first descriptor of someone, that sets that person apart from the beginning, Morehouse says. Using Person First Language would describe the person as someone who experiences autism. Or better yet, use the person’s first name before mentioning autism, or the fact the person is someone’s son or daughter.

“Respectful language makes our communities and workplaces more welcoming for everyone,” Morehouse says.

Sherwood was recently recognized by Snohomish County through a Resolution for over 60 years of service, working with people of varying abilities and their families to remove barriers so they can be contributing, independent members of their communities, like Matt.

But we need everyone to work together to make this happen, Morehouse says.

“Person First Language is an easy first step.”

For more information about what Sherwood does and how you can make a difference visit www.sherwoodcs.org.

More in Marketplace

Convenience, customer service keep your European wheels rolling

Everett repair shop technicians stay ahead of the curve on vehicle technology

How to give your performance or production car the royal treatment

Experts in Everett began with Z cars, now service and modify a wide range of imports, domestics

Let’s use technology to help citizens that need it the most

Compass Housing serves many people who do not have a reliable place… Continue reading

Women and cannabis: What’s new, what’s popular and how it can help

Tulalip retailer bridges the education gap for new cannabis users

Help is here: A substance-free life begins with asking for help

New Everett health centre can help you on the road to recovery

A personalized approach to help get the retirement you want

Investment planning for your life goals

Think P.I.N.K to frame your trees into a beautiful, functional landscape

How pink is your treescape? “‘Treescaping’ is how we describe the work… Continue reading

Adrenaline-pumping paintball targets fun for all ages

Family-run Doodlebug Sportz offers paintball for everyone in Everett and Snohomish

All heart: Mukilteo massage and esthetics spa helps you Be Well

When Lisa Quinto first founded her massage therapy and wellness practice, she… Continue reading

Build your next career, starting now!

Award-winning Skagit County builder will keep you busy all year, motivated with project variety

Driving away in your European dream car can be THIS easy!

Lynnwood dealer specializes in European and other imports, at prices you can afford

Live Happy, Live Healthy: Take an Active Approach to Your Wellness Journey

When Remedy Tulalip opened its doors, it did so under a simple,… Continue reading