Appropriate Terms to Use

When writing or speaking about people with disabilities it is important to put the person first. Catch-all phrases such as 'the blind', 'the deaf' or 'the disabled, do not reflect the individuality, equality or dignity of people with disabilities.

Listed below are some recommendations for use when describing, speaking or writing about people with disabilities.

Some examples of appropriate terms:

  • Term no longer in use: the disabled
    Term Now Used: people with disabilities or disabled people

  • Term no longer in use: wheelchair-bound
    Term Now Used: persons who uses a wheelchair

  • Term no longer in use: confined to a wheelchair
    Term Now Used: wheelchair user

  • Term no longer in use: cripple, spastic, victim
    Term Now Used: disabled person, person with a disability

  • Term no longer in use: the handicapped
    Term Now Used: disabled person, person with a disability

  • Term no longer in use: mental handicap
    Term Now Used: intellectual disability

  • Term no longer in use: mentally handicapped
    Term Now Used: intellectually disabled

  • Term no longer in use: normal
    Term Now Used: non-disabled

  • Term no longer in use: schizo, mad
    Term Now Used: person with a mental health disability

  • Term no longer in use: suffers from (e.g. asthma)
    Term Now Used: has (e.g. asthma)

Reproduced from the NDA Guidelines on Consultation

Source: Making Progress Together, 2000 - People with Disabilities in Ireland Ltd.