Disability Language

 Do you know how unpleasant words and expressions which describe disability and which we still unintentionally use can be for disabled persons eg. cripple, invalid?

Do you know how negatively charged, discriminating and stigmatising such words and expressions are?

Do you know where they come from, their etymology, why we use them and why we should stop using them?

And finally, do you know how such negative words and expressions can be replaced with modern language which does not offend anyone?

If your answer to all the above questions is “no” or “I don’t know”, it may be worthwhile to have a closer look at this site which we have prepared with all those in mind who - rather than wanting to be politically correct - wish to show understanding, mindfulness and empathy towards the largest minority in each society, that is disabled persons.

This site is intended for opinion-forming groups: teachers, journalists, entrepreneurs and officials of any rank.

No social minority wants to be offended, including by words and expressions uttered to and about its members.

Below please find some negative and positive terms describing disabled persons and disability.

Stigmatising terms Recommended terms
handicap disability, impairment
cripple, invalid, sufferer, handicapped, differently able, wronged by fate a disabled person
the disabled disabled people
the blind a blind person/people, visually impaired person/people, partially sighted person/people
the deaf and dumb a deaf/Deaf person, deaf people/hard of hearing people, hearing impaired person/people
a child/person with special needs a disabled child/person
special needs specific requirements
an invalid wheelchair wheelchair
confined/chained to a wheelchair a wheelchair user, a person using a wheelchair
retarded, a retard a person with cognitive impairment, mental retardation, developmental disability
a psycho, a psychopath, a paranoid, a mental, a freak a person with mental health difficulties
schizophrenic, schizo, schizoid a person who has schizophrenia
epileptic a person with epilepsy
autistic a person who has autism
Downs, Mongoloid, Mongol, Mong, Panface a person/child with Down’s Syndrome
spastic, spazz

a person with cerebral palsy,

a person with mobility disability
diabetic a person who has diabetes
a child/person of special care a disabled child/person
wronged by fate a person with a disability
dyslexic a person with dyslexia

We hope an article by Bernard Quinn on the reformed English of disability will be of interest to you. The text can be found here.