Talking Point: The Disney Institute Blog

"People First" Language

April 05, 2012 by Jeff James, Vice President & General Manager, Disney Institute

Creating an environment where all Guests feels welcomed and respected is important for any business. At Disney, we train our Cast Members to engage in “people first” language.   

Putting the person before the disability is central to every interaction. We want every Guest to experience the same quality service and magical experiences while in the parks.   

Here are some ways to incorporate “people first” language into your organization:

  • Initially address your Guest by his or her first name when interacting with an individual.
  • When talking with a Guest in a wheelchair for more than a few moments, approach him or her at eye level for a higher quality interaction.
  • Offer to read signs or materials to a Guest with visual disabilities.
  • Always speak to the Guest with a disability first before addressing any companions that may accompany them.      

Disney Institute is ready to help you apply strategic rigor to your customer experience efforts - call us at 321.939.4600 or complete our Contact Form

Posted in Quality Service | Tagged Guests, Cast Members | 2 Comments

2 Responses to "People First" Language

  • David says:

    on April 09, 2012

    Thank you for your sensitivity to this issue! We’re delighted to hear that the excellent customer service at Disney extends to those of all abilities. Your Friends at the Bethesda Institute

  • Paul says:

    on July 10, 2012

    These are some great tips toward creating a welcoming and inviting feeling by the guests. I’m a little curious though as to your use of “People First.” While the first three measures are clearly centered on people, the fourth measure – always speak to the Guest with a disability first before addressing any companions that may accompany them, is now clearly “Disability First” rather than “People First.” Isn’t the idea to make everyone feel special? When a leader acts or communicates with someone first just because they are disabled, don’t they run the risk of alienating people by creating artificial parameters for interaction. I’m not suggesting ignoring any person with disability. I am however, suggesting that ignoring, even momentarily, someone without a disability is just as bad if you are seeking to incorporate true “People First” language into the organization. All of us carry our differences with us, regardless of who we are – it’s just that some differences are more noticeable than others.

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