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Current acceptable language for disability

Don’t get tongue tied talking to disabled people – read our quick guide to acceptable language.

Language is a highly contentious issue, and its difficult to come up with a ‘perfect’ list of terminology that won’t offend anyone. We recommends the following language as being least likely to cause offense, but its always worth checking locally as there are regional variations in preferred language:

  • someone without a disability - non-disabled person

  • someone with a disability - disabled person

  • person with a hearing impairment – D/deaf person, sign language user, partially hearing person, deafened person, hard of hearing person…

  • person with a visual impairment - blind person, partially sighted person, guide dog user

  • people with a learning disability - learning disabled people, people with learning difficulties

  • people with a mobility impairment - wheelchair users, mobility impaired person, person with a physical impairment - physically disabled person

  • person with an impairment related to their mental health – person with mental health needs, person experiencing/with experience of mental distress, survivor

  • person with a hidden impairment – person with a hidden disability * person who has…, person with experience of…, person with…

  • someone who works alongside a disabled person to meet their access needs or ensure their needs are met - personal assistant (PA), facilitator, support worker, carer, care worker, participation assistant, interpreter, communicator, notetaker, reader, educational aid, mobility guide…

Don't just take our word for it - check out the Barking and Dagenham Guide to Disability Etiquette
Or Manchester City Council's guide...
Or a nice blog on the subject...
Even an interesting article in the Independent!