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Disability Language

Disability Language and Its Implications

As members of an educational community, it is important for us to recognize our responsibilities to demonstrate sensitivity in our use of language describing individuals with disabilities. The following information is shared towards this end:

  • A disabling condition is not automatically a handicap; use of the word disability is more positive.
  • The word "normal" used in contrast to those with disabilities is inappropriate.

The following list contrasts non-judgmental, positive terms with language that perpetuates negative stereotypes:

Positive Language

Negative Labeling

  • uses a wheelchair

  • person with/person who has

  • the person has ___________

  • person who is hearing impaired

  • person with mental retardation

  • physically disabled

  • seizure

  • person with a seizure disorder/with Epilepsy

  • wheelchair bound

  • victim

  • afflicted with

  • suffers a hearing loss

  • retarded

  • cripple; lame

  • fit

  • epileptic