Inclusive SA

Appropriate words

Consider using

  • Has… (the disability)
  • Lives with… (the disability)
  • People with disability
  • Person with lived experience of disability, which is inclusive of people who are carers and people who may have experienced disability in the past

Instead of

  • Suffers from
  • Sufferer
  • Victim (when used to refer to disability.)
  • Afflicted with
  • Disease
  • De-personalising collective labels such as: The disabled, Handicapped, Invalid, Special needs

Consider using

  • Person without disability

Instead of

  • Normal person
  • Non-disabled
  • Able-bodied

Consider using

  • Born with disability
  • Person living with disability from birth

Instead of

  • Birth defect
  • Deformity
  • Abnormality

Consider using

  • People who are deaf
  • People who are hard of hearing
  • People who are hearing impaired
  • The Deaf community (With a capital letter on Deaf — this refers to people who identify themselves as part of the Deaf community and who use sign language.)

Instead of

  • The deaf
  • A deaf person

Consider using

  • Person who is deaf and non-verbal
  • Person who is deafblind (Some people may use speech if they became deaf later in life.)

Instead of

  • A deaf and dumb person

Consider using

  • Blind person
  • People who are blind
  • The Blind community
  • People who are legally blind
  • People who are vision impaired

Instead of

  • The blind
  • Visually impaired

Consider using

  • People with physical disability

Instead of

  • The handicapped
  • The physically handicapped
  • Cripple
  • Crippled

Consider using

  • Wheelchair user
  • People who use wheelchairs
  • Person who uses a wheelchair

Instead of

  • Confined to a wheelchair
  • Wheelchair-bound. Wheelchairs can be liberating, providing mobility and accessibility.

Consider using

  • Person with intellectual disability

Instead of

  • Mentally disabled
  • Minda
  • Intellectually challenged

Consider using

  • A person with mental illness
  • mental health disability
  • Schizophrenia
  • Psychosocial disability
  • bi-polar disorder
  • (specify the condition)

Instead of

  • Insane
  • Mentally disabled
  • Crazy
  • Mad
  • Demented
  • Psychotic
  • Lunatic
  • Deviant
  • Schizophrenic

Consider using

  • Brain injury
  • Acquired brain injury (ABI)
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)

Instead of

  • Brain-damaged
  • Vegetative

Consider using

  • Cognitive impairment

Instead of

  • Stupid
  • Special
  • Special needs
  • Defective
  • Delusional
  • Demented

Consider using

  • Typical development
  • Neuroptypical
  • Developmental delay

Instead of

  • Normal development
  • Normal
  • Slow

Consider using

  • A person with epilepsy
  • A person who has epilepsy
  • A person living with epilepsy

Instead of

  • An epileptic

Consider using

  • A person with cerebral palsy
  • Mr Jones has cerebral palsy

Instead of

  • Spastic
  • ‘Cerebral palsy sufferer Mr Jones’ (implies that Mr Jones is either diminished as a result of his disability or is a victim).

Consider using

  • Athlete/person with disability
  • Paralympian

Place the athlete or person first rather than referring to his or her disability.

Instead of

  • Disabled athlete/person
  • Handicapped athlete/person

Consider using

  • Person with Down syndrome

Instead of

  • Down’s kids
  • Down syndrome person
  • Mongol

Consider using

  • Autism/Autistic
  • Person on the autism spectrum

If preferred:

  • Autistic person (Identity-first language)
  • Person with autism (Person-first language)

Instead of

  • Severe
  • High functioning
  • Low functioning

These are not official diagnostic terms, do not provide a constructive view of a person on the autism spectrum and do not speak to the specific challenges or abilities of the individual.

It is important to ask the person with autism to understand their preference – and respect their wishes. Many autistic people prefer identity first language (autistic person, or Maria is autistic) as it reflects the belief that being autistic is a core part of a person’s identity.’

Some people still describe themselves as living with Asperger’s syndrome or as being ‘Aspie’, even though Asperger’s syndrome was removed from official terminology in 2013.

Consider using

  • Person with dwarfism
  • Person of short stature

Instead of

  • Midget
  • Dwarf

While most people with dwarfism prefer to be called “people of short stature”, some people prefer to be called dwarfs or little people. Always ask a person’s preference.

Consider using

  • Accessible seating/parking/toilet/lift.

Instead of

  • Disabled
  • Handicapped

Consider using

  • Seizure

Instead of

  • Fit
  • Attack
  • Spell

Consider using

  • Amputation
  • Amputee

Instead of

  • Stumps.

This site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence. © Copyright 2021 DHS .

Provided by:
Department of Human Services
URL:
https://inclusive.sa.gov.au/resources/templates/inclusive-media-guidelines/appropriate-words
Last Updated:
12 Aug 2020
Printed on:
28 Nov 2021
The Inclusive SA website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence. © Copyright 2016