Do not refer to a disability or condition unless it is crucial to your subject and relates to the full understanding of your listener or reader.Avoid portraying as superhuman the accomplishments of a person with a disability. This inadvertently implies that a person with a disability lacks or has very limited skills, talents, or unusual gifts. Do not use subjective terms such as afflicted with, victim of, troubled with, suffering from and so on. Such expressions convey negative connotations. It is preferable to use an expression such as a person who has (a specific disability). Avoid labeling persons and putting them in categories, as in the handicapped, the disabled, the deaf, the retarded, the learning disabled,and so on. Instead, use terminology such as: a person who has multiple sclerosis, people with disabilities, a person with deafness, and so on. Emphasize the individual not the disability. Rather than using terms such as disabled person, handicapped people, a crippled person, use terms such as people/persons with disabilities, a person with a disability, or a person with a visual impairment. Do not use subjective descriptors such as "unfortunate", "pitiful", or "sad" when describing people with disabilities. Emphasize abilities, for example, instead of saying John is confined to his wheelchair, use a positive expression of ability such as John uses a wheelchair. Or, Mary is partially sighted rather than Mary is partially blind. Avoid comparing a disability with a disease. Do not refer to a person with disability as a patient unless he/she is under medical care. It is preferable to use terms such as consumer or person with a disability rather than terms such as client. Do not minimize individual differences that distinguish one person with a disability from another with the same disability, by using a phrase such as garden variety (specific disability) to refer to an individual or group of individuals with similar disabilities.
As a service provider to people with disabilities, avoid using possessive generalizations such as my MRs, or our LDs. Expressions such as the people we serve with partial vision, the persons we serve with mental retardation, promote positive recognition of individuals.
June 25, 2019 09:54
Blog: Guidelines for Writing and Referring to People with Disabilities