English everyday

English everyday – Talking about disabilities

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.




2 comments on “English everyday – Talking about disabilities

  1. ninakamburova

    Love it! Very useful and VERY IMPORTANT!


  2. Herto Tryde Sibarani

    very useful,thank you


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