- Do not refer to a person’s disability unless it is relevant to the conversation.
- Use the word “disability” rather than “handicap” to refer to a person’s disability. Never use “cripple/crippled”.
- Avoid referring to people with disabilities as “the disabled, the blind, the epileptics, the retarded.” Descriptive terms should be used as adjectives, not as nouns.
- Avoid negative or sensational descriptions of a person’s disability. Don’t say “suffers from, a victim of, or afflicted with.” These portrayals elicit unwanted sympathy, or worse, pity toward individuals with disabilities. Respect and acceptance is what people with disabilities prefer.
- Don’t use “normal” or “able-bodied” to describe people who do not have disabilities. It is better to say “people without disabilities,” if necessary to make comparisons.
- When referring to a person’s disability, use “People First Language.” Why Should You Use People First Language? People who have disabilities are present in every aspect of society. They are:
- sons and daughters
- moms and dads
- employees and co-workers
- friends and neighbors
- students and teachers Most importantly, they are people first.
Making the Change to People First Language
- “handicapped” or “disabled” should be replaced with “people with disabilities”
- “he/she is wheelchair bound” or “he/she is confined to a wheelchair” should be replaced with “he/she uses a wheelchair”
- “he/she has a birth defect” should be replaced with “he/she has a congenital disability”
- “handicapped” in reference to parking, bathrooms, rooms etc. should be replaced with “accessible”
- “he/she is retarded ” should be replaced with “he/she has a cognitive disability or mental retardation”
The information provided above is taken directly from the Best Buddies International Peer Buddy Training on People First Language.