This post is going to address how to talk about people with disabilities.
A simple rule to follow is ‘person first’. So it’s good to say: A person with autism. A person who has Down’s Syndrome. A person with depression. A person who has epilepsy. A person with a mental health illness.
Don’t say: an autistic person, a Down’s person, a depressive person, an epileptic person, a mentally ill person.
In general use the constructions:
- A person with…
- A person who has…
Blind and Deaf
There are some exceptions to the ‘person who has’ rule, and that’s for blind and deaf people.
It is correct to say: A blind person, a partially sighted person, or a person with sight loss, a visually impaired person, or a person with visual impairment.
Don’t say: a hard-of-seeing person.
It is correct to say: A Deaf person/ a deaf person. Some Deaf people use Deaf with a capital D to show Deaf as part of their identity, as strongly as their nationality or religion.
It’s correct to say: A hard of hearing person.
Don’t say: hearing impaired – some people find this offensive as it implies that deafness is a problem.
It’s good to say: a wheelchair user or a person who uses a wheelchair.
Don’t say things like: wheelchair bound or stuck in a wheelchair.
General taboo words
In the UK, handicapped is not commonly used anymore.
Don’t say retard, dumb, mute, cripple, spastic, invalid, dwarf or midget.
Don’t say things like suffers from… or a victim of…
If you or your children have a disability, how do you talk about it? Whatever language you use is valid for you, as everyone has their own preference.
Any comments? Let me know below.