Disability Etiquette
People First Language

Disability Etiquette/People First Language
Disability Etiquette/People First Language
People with disabilities are not conditions or diseases. They are individual human beings - people first. For example, a person is not an epileptic but rather a person who has epilepsy.

These are people who have one or more disabling conditions. They prefer to be referred to in person, in print or broadcast media as People with Disabilities.


Follow Us On Facebook!
Follow Us On Twitter!
Acceptable Terms
Unacceptable Terms
Person with a disability.
Disability: a general term used for functional limitation that interferes with a person's ability, for example, to walk, hear, or lift. It may refer to a physical, mental, or sensory condition.
Person who had a spinal cord injury, polio, a stroke, etc. or a person who has multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, arthritis, etc.
Deaf/Hard of Hearing.  The word "deaf" refers to a person who has total hearing loss. Hearing Impairment refers to a person with partial hearing loss.
Has a disability, has a condition of (spina bifida, etc.), or born without legs, etc.
A Person who has a mental or developmental disability.
Cripple, cripples - the image conveyed is of a twisted, deformed, useless body.
Handicap, handicapped person, or handicapped. This term originated from the street person - cap or hat in hand - begging for money...not a pleasant picture.
Victim.  People with disabilities do not like to be perceived as victims for the rest of their lives.
Deaf and Dumb is as bad as it sounds. The inability to hear or speak does not indicate intelligence.
Deformed, vegetable. These words are offensive, dehumanizing, degrading, and stigmatizing.
Retarded, moron, imbecile, idiot. These are offensive to people who bear the label.
©ETCIL, Inc., 2011

A person who uses a wheelchair or crutches; a wheelchair user; walks with crutches.
Confined / Restricted to a wheelchair; Wheelchair bound. Most people who use wheelchairs or mobility devices do not regard them as confining. They are viewed as liberating means of transportation.
Healthy, when used to contrast with "disabled."  Healthy implies that the person with a disability is unhealthy. Many people with disabilities have excellent health.
A Person who is able to walk, see, hear, etc. People who are not disabled. People who do not have a disability.
Normal.  When used as the opposite of disabled, this implies that the person is abnormal.  No one wants to be labeled as abnormal.