Inclusive SA

Words matter — avoid outdated terms

Language is powerful. It can inspire. It can shape perceptions. And it can have a devastating impact if used incorrectly.

Outdated terms

  • Wheelchair-bound. A wheelchair-user is freed, not bound, by using a wheelchair
  • Victim of…, suffers from…, suffering from the tragedy of…, afflicted with…
  • Handicapped, retarded, spastic, mental, imbecile, birth defect/deformity
  • Deaf mute, deaf and dumb, dumb, physically challenged, differently abled, handicapable
  • Deficient, people with deficits, slow or slow learner, idiot, mongoloid
  • Crippled or physically challenged
  • Medical terms such as patient or invalid
  • Has the mental age of…
  • Emotional words of pity and charity. For example, unfortunate, pitiful
  • Words of heroism and inspiration. For example, brave, special, super-determined, unstoppable.

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Provided by:
Department of Human Services
Last Updated:
26 Oct 2023
Printed on:
22 Feb 2024
The Inclusive SA website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence. © Copyright 2016