Friday, August 28, 2009

Mission 4: Health Checks Now

This mission was brought to Oz Squad's attention by squad member Monica. Monica spotted a few poorly-worded articles about Down syndrome on a health info site called healthchecksnow. The articles aren't intentionally or overtly offensive, but they do contain statements that some may find offensive and over-generalized. Several OS members posted comments with thoughtful suggestions about how the articles could be rewritten to make them more accurate and sensitive. If anyone else would like to read the articles and respond with comments of your own, here are a few links:

What is Down Syndrome?

The Face of Down Syndrome: Physical Characteristics

This is a great example of how Oz Squad can serve as an Internet watchdog. Changing a few phrases on a site like this one may not seem like it makes much of a difference. But there's a lot of bad info online. A poorly chosen word, an old statistic, a negative tone in what should be a neutral article – these are things that matter. They can subconsciously affect people's attitudes toward people with Down syndrome. They can have subtle influences on a doctor's choice of words at a critical time. They can perpetuate myths and stereotypes. They can make life a little bit harder for every one of us.

So when you spot something like this, please take a few moments and send a comment to the author. If that doesn't help, let us know about it. We can work together to educate the public, clean up these frustrating little problems, and make the world a little bit brighter for our kids.

Thanks again, Monica!