The Civic Language Perceptions Project

DRAPP The Latest in Disability Research, Advocacy, Policy, and Practice

Institute on Disability UNH logo
Language matters in the disability rights movement. Words have the power to change the way people think and feel. However, the words we choose may mean different things to different people. Recent survey data from the Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) suggests this may be especially true for words related to civic participation.

Civic participation can be a range of things meant to improve your community: volunteering, being involved in a neighborhood association, participating in the census, and more. It can also mean reaching out to lawmakers and voting. People with disabilities are approximately 20% of the voting population. Voter turnout for people with disabilities is growing faster than the general population, despite barriers to voting that organizations like the Disability Rights Center are working to address.

PACE launched the Civic Language Perceptions Project to understand associations with words related to civic engagement. You can view their findings here:

One of the demographic markers that PACE did not ask about was disability status. Let’s help bring this important perspective to civic engagement work. Please take a moment to fill out the PACE survey and give your anonymous view of these words. Civil society is stronger when everyone participates!


Pie chart from PACE describing how people feel about the term “civic engagement”: 42% view it positively, 5.8% view it negatively, 42.4% view it as neither, and 11.6% are unfamiliar with the term.



DRC-NH, in collaboration with the UNH Institute on Disability and the New Hampshire Council on Developmental Disabilities, distribute a quarterly RAP sheet to educate community members and policy makers about the latest research, policy, practice, and advocacy issues affecting individuals with disabilities and their families.


Latest RAP Sheet