Layers of Disability Terminology Experiences of People with Disabilities and their Relatives: An Analysis of Dutch Newspapers between 1950–2020

Aartjan Ter Haar, Sander R. Hilberink, Alice Schippers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Despite the current terminology debate, little is known about the terminology experiences of people with disabilities and their relatives. Therefore, their interviews and letters to editors about disability terminology experiences published in Dutch newspapers between 1950 and 2020 were examined using inductive qualitative analysis. Three themes were derived. Contributors (1) objected to the use of particular terms and explained why a change in disability terminology was required; (2) argued that a change in disability terminology was viable; and (3) opposed proposed terminological changes. Contributors stated that derogatory and outmoded terms did not accurately depict the abilities of people with disabilities, resulting in stigmatisation and exclusion. Few contributors addressed a cross-disability perspective, and there was no mention of disability policy in the terminology debate. Meaningful associations between disability terminology experiences and the visibility and onset of the disability could be established. The newspaper contributions reflected the growing self-awareness of people with disabilities and their relatives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-197
Number of pages15
JournalScandinavian Journal of Disability Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2023


  • Disability terminology
  • belonging
  • experienced representations
  • identity
  • newspaper analysis
  • stigma

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