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Terminology guide concerning
persons with disabilities


Do not use or say Do use or say
Aged (The)
bullet elderly (The)
SENIORS
Adjectives like frail, senile or feeble
suggest a negative image of seniors
and should not be used.
Birth defect
bullet congenital defect
bullet deformity
PERSON WITH A DISABILITY
SINCE BIRTH, PERSON WHO HAS
A CONGENITAL DISABILITY
Blind (The)
bullet visually impaired (The)
PERSON WHO IS BLIND, PERSON
WITH A VISUAL IMPAIRMENT
Confined to a wheelchair
bullet wheelchair-bound
PERSON WHO USES A WHEELCHAIR,
WHEELCHAIR USER for individuals
with a mobility impairment, a
wheelchair is a means to get around
independently
Cripple
bullet crippled
bullet lame
PERSON WITH A DISABILITY, PERSON
WITH A MOBILITY IMPAIRMENT,
PERSON WHO HAS ARTHRITIS, A
SPINAL CORD INJURY, ETC.
 
Do not use or say Do use or say
Mentally retarded
bullet defective
bullet feeble minded
bullet idiot
bullet imbecile
bullet moron
bullet retarded
bullet simple
bullet mongoloid
PERSON WITH AN INTELLECTUAL
DISABILITY, PERSON WHO IS
INTELLECTUALLY IMPAIRED
One can say, a person with Down's
syndrome, only if relevant to the story.
Normal PERSON WHO IS NOT DISABLED
Normal is only acceptable in reference
to statistics, e.g., "The norm".
Patient PERSON WITH A DISABILITY
Unless the relationship being referred
to is between a doctor and client.
Physically Challenged
bullet differently able
PERSON WITH A DISABILITY
She/he has a problem with... She/he has a need for...
Spastic PERSON WHO HAS SPASMS
Spastic should never be used as a noun.
Suffers from
bullet afflicted by
bullet stricken with
PERSON WITH A DISABILITY
PERSON WHO HAS CEREBRAL
PALSY, ETC.
Having a disability is not
synonymous with suffering.
Victim of cerebral palsy,
multiple sclerosis,
arthritis, etc.
PERSON WHO HAS CEREBRAL
PALSY, MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS,
ARTHRITIS, ETC., PERSON
WITH A DISABILITY, PERSON
WITH A MOBILITY IMPAIRMENT
 
Do not use or say Do use or say
bullet  deaf-mute
bullet  deaf
bullet  dumb
PERSON WHO IS DEAF
Culturally-linguistically deaf people
(that is, sign language users) are properly identified as "the Deaf" (upper-case "D"). People who do not use sign language are properly referred to as "the deaf"
(lower-case "d") or "people who are deaf."
Hard of hearing (The)
bullet hearing impaired (The)
PERSON WHO IS HARD OF HEARING
These individuals are not deaf and may
compensate for a hearing loss with an
amplification device or system.
Epileptic (The) PERSON WHO HAS EPILEPSY
Fit
bullet attack / spell
SEIZURE
Handicapped (The) PERSON WITH A DISABILITY UNLESS
REFERRING TO AN ENVIRONMENTAL
OR ATTITUDAL BARRIER
In such instances "person who is
handicapped by" is appropriate.
Handicapped parking, bathrooms Accessible parking, bathrooms
 
Do not use or say Do use or say
Insane
bullet lunatic
bullet maniac
bullet mental patient
bullet mentally diseased
bullet neurotic
bullet psycho
bullet psychotic
bullet schizophrenic
bullet unsound mind
PERSONS WITH A MENTAL HEALTH
DISABILITY, PERSON WHO HAS
SCHIZOPHRENIA, PERSON WHO HAS
DEPRESSION
It is important to remember that the
development of appropriate terminology
is still in progress: however, the above
terms are currently in use. The term
"insane" (unsound mind) should only
be used in strictly legal sense.
Obviously, words such as "crazy",
"demented", "deviant", "loony",
"mad", and "nuts" should be avoided.
Invalid PERSON WITH A DISABILITY
The literal sense of the word "invalid"
is "not valid".
Learning disabled, learning disordered, the dyslexics A person with a learning disability or persons with learning disabilities

Human Resources Development Canada SDDP-001-09-98E Canada

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