Objective: to encourage proper coverage of these issues in the media


Turin/Milan, 16 November 2021 - Intesa Sanpaolo has produced the Guide "Le parole giuste - Media e persone con disabilità" (The right words - Media and people with disabilities), a guide designed for those who want to write about these topics with fairness and respect. Language is a fundamental medium for recognising, understanding and appreciating each person's specific qualities. The terms and words we use are also crucial in understanding a society's level of civilization.

Between the extremes of feel-goodism and easy enthusiasm, on the one hand, and coldness and insensitivity (often in good faith) on the other, the Intesa Sanpaolo Guide, which has received the seal of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, brings the focus back to the individual rather than his or her condition, suggesting a balanced approach to those who write about disability – journalists, communicators, managers, professionals and the third sector.

At the same time, in line with the Bank's commitment to diversity and inclusion – a commitment expressed both through internal policies aimed at its own people and through projects aimed at the outside world – the Guide aims to encourage maximum coverage of disability issues in communications.

Erika Stefani, Minister for Disabilities, commented: "This Intesa Sanpaolo initiative, carried out with the contribution of the Disability Observatory and the Office for Policies in favour of People with Disabilities, is a step in the right direction. All institutions, companies and public and private organisations must work together to promote a culture of inclusion. The use of a correct vocabulary, when referring to a complex world like our own, is one of the necessary conditions to ensure respect for the rights of people with disabilities and encourage growth towards a more inclusive society.

Stefano Lucchini, Chief Institutional Affairs and External Communication Officer Intesa Sanpaolo, commented: "The glossary stems from our need to use the correct terminology when communicating Intesa Sanpaolo's initiatives benefiting people with disabilities. We have looked into the matter and the result is something more than a glossary: a true guide that we wish to make available to journalists and those involved in communication. Talking about disability in the right ways is a question of respect for rights and the sensitivity that each person deserves, regardless of their characteristics."

The Glossary, created by the Intesa Sanpaolo Media and Associations Relations Department, is inspired by the Disability Language Style Guide of the Media Center for National Center on Disability and Journalism of Arizona State University (USA), which granted the translation rights. Its contents were then expanded and verified by the Office for Policies for People with Disabilities of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, by the National Observatory on the Condition of People with Disabilities and by ANFFAS, the National Association of Families of People with Intellectual and/or Relational Disabilities.


"The Right Words - Media and People with Disabilities." can be downloaded free of charge from the Intesa Sanpaolo website at the link



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USEFUL GUIDELINES (excerpt from the Intesa Sanpaolo Guide The Right Words)

1.       Always ask the person with a disability to express his or her personal point of view on the facts, even when they are represented by third parties (e.g. parents or other family members) and always understand his or her wishes regarding the way in which he or she prefers to be represented, including when it comes to the specific indication of references to his or her health condition. If the person in question needs support in interpreting requests or expressing their wishes, ask family members or other people close to them should be asked for help.

2.       Mention a person's condition of disability only when it is effectively relevant to relate the circumstances and, where it is mentioned, use correct language that always places the person in the foreground, e.g. "person with Down's syndrome", "person with autism spectrum disorder", "person with motor disability", "deaf person" or "blind person".

3.       Avoid neologisms such as "differently able", "diversely able", "dis-able", "person suffering from a disability", "person with a handicap" and other similar words, always replacing them with the expression "person with a disability". The word "handicap" should also be replaced by the word "disability". If a direct quotation from a legal text or other text that contains terms other than those described above must be given, the term should be placed in quotation marks and, where possible, the reason given by citing the correct new definition.

4.       If there is a derogatory or inappropriate term in the direct quote (e.g., emphasis on illness, use of a negatively connoted term, etc.), it should not be cited. If it needs to be cited, for whatever reason, you should specify the reason and propose the correct term as an alternative. For example, if the term "mongoloid" needs to be cited, specify that this term represents disability in a derogatory way and should not be used, whereas the correct definition is "person with Down's syndrome".

5.       If you need support or have doubts about general matters, you can ask for help from associations or organisations representing people with disabilities or contact the National Observatory on the Conditions of People with Disabilities in Italy directly.

6.       Narratives that portray the person with disabilities as a "victim" or "hero" should be avoided (sensationalism should always be avoided). Likewise, avoid excessive use as "examples" of stories of Paralympic athletes or other individuals who fall into an extremely limited range of "successes". It's best to speak of the "normality" of an individual, his or her life and situation.

7.       Avoid forcedly modifying your speech when talking to a person with a disability or when they are present, as this would be discriminatory. It's important to act naturally by also using commonly used expressions such as "see you later" or "you're really good".

8.       The use of terms that are not fully respectful by people from groups at risk of stigma does not justify the use of those terms, much less by people outside that group. If a term can discriminate, no matter who uses it, it should not be used.


Intesa Sanpaolo

Intesa Sanpaolo is a wealth management & protection company, Italy’s leading bank and one of the most solid and profitable bank groups in Europe. It offers commercial, corporate investment banking, private banking, asset management and insurance services. The Intesa Sanpaolo Group has approximately 13.5 million customers in Italy and 7.1 million customers abroad through commercial banking subsidiaries in 12 countries in Central-Eastern Europe and Middle East and North Africa as well an international network to support corporate customers across 25 countries. Intesa Sanpaolo is recognized as one of the most sustainable banks in the world and is committed to becoming a reference model in terms of sustainability and social and cultural responsibility. Intesa Sanpaolo supports major economic inclusion and poverty reduction projects, including a €1.5 billion impact fund for loans to social groups who struggle to access credit. The Group has a €6 billion fund dedicated to the circular economy. The Group is also deeply involved in cultural initiatives in Italy and further afield, with the aim of preserving, promoting and sharing Italy’s historical and artistic heritage, also thanks to permanent and temporary exhibitions hosted at the Gallerie d’Italia, Intesa Sanpaolo’s museums located in Milan, Naples, Vicenza and, soon, Turin.

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