Albinism is a rare, non-contagious, genetically inherited condition. It occurs in people of both genders regardless of ethnicity and in all countries of the world. It also occurs in animal species as diverse as rhinos and whales. BOTH the father and mother must carry the gene for it to be passed on even if they do not have albinism themselves. The condition results in a lack of pigmentation in the hair, skin and eyes, causing vulnerability to sun exposure and bright light. Almost all persons with albinism are visually impaired, with the majority being classified as “legally blind."
While numbers vary in North America and Europe it is estimated that 1 in every 20,000 people have some form of albinism. Throughout East Africa, albinism is much more prevalent, with estimates of 1 in 2,000 people being affected. The term “person with albinism” (PWA) is preferred to the term “albino.”
Lead by example in treating people with albinism respectfully
Help end name-calling and the use of common yet disrespectful labels
Lead the way in stopping the use of labels: “Zeru-Zeru, Ma-albino, Mzungu, Whitey, Deal, Ankara, and other names more commonly used in your locality.
Lead the way in stopping reference to a person with albinism as “albino.” To refer to someone as “albino” is to equate a human being to their most visible condition: albinism. This is contrary to global efforts to advance the dignity of all persons.
Try to use and encourage the use of more respectful terms including “person with albinism or student with albinism.
More importantly, use the person’s given name to refer to him or her. This will contribute to, as well as foster understanding and respect.