Toolkit for Staff Home | Inclusive Teaching Strategies| Appropriate Language | Reasonable Adjustments | Disclosure and Confidentiality | Legislation | University Support Services| FAQ’s | A – Z Index|
The preferred term 'people with disabilities' stresses the essential humanity of individuals and avoids objectification. The term 'disabled people' is still used, but this term defines people as 'disabled' first and 'people' second.
The following terms have fallen into disuse and should be avoided:
It is inappropriate to use the article 'the' with an adjective to describe people with disabilities (e.g. ‘the Stroke victim’)
As a general rule, when referring to a person’s disability, describe the person first and the disability second (e.g. the student who has a Hearing Impairment)
Avoid implying that people with disabilities are to be pitied, feared or ignored, or that they are somehow more heroic, courageous, patient, or 'special' than others.
Never use the term 'normal' in contrast to a student without a disability, when describing a student with a disability.
Avoid terms that define the disability as a limitation, such as 'confined to a wheelchair', or 'wheelchair-bound'. A person in a wheelchair 'uses a wheelchair'. For the user, a wheelchair is an aid to freedom, not a means of confinement
person who is deaf
person who has a hearing impairment
person who is blind
person who has a vision impairment
person who has polio
people with disabilities
person who has multiple sclerosis
the hearing impaired
the vision impaired
wheelchair bound / person confined to a wheelchair
multiple sclerosis sufferer
Acknowledging people as equal
Respecting people: assuming they are in control of their lives and can make their own decisions
Behave as you would normally: same lip movements, pitch and volume; a little slower for people with a hearing impairment
Allowing the same, not greater or less, personal space. Wheelchairs should be considered part of the person
Being perceptive, but not making assumptions or taking charge. Asking first "Is there any way I can help?"
Allowing enough time for communication