Disability terminology

I feel like there’s a debate about disability language, whether its disability or person first, there is no one way to approach the subject as it is down to personal preference. However, I do think there are a couple of things we should universally avoid when discussing disability. Often people don’t mean to offend but sometimes people use the wrong terminology and I think it’s important that people correct them in a constructive and kind way to ensure the conversation continues, but also that people willingly take these corrections on board. I have compiled a short list of do’s and don’ts below to help people navigate discussions, but remember I am only one disabled person so I can’t speak for everyone!


By no means is this a definitive list of terms that are offensive or all of the correct terminology, this is only meant to be a general help guide. As with any language or terminology people may find different terms offensive including the ones suggested to use above, so be mindful when people correct you and request different terminology. If in doubt ask people the terminology they prefer, for example person first or disability first.


Some other important things to note whilst in conversation with people who have disabilities are: avoid using patronising tones, excessive praise and catch all terminology. Talk to people who have disabilities the same way you would talk to anyone else! Acknowledging the fact that there is a difference is okay, but at the same time we are human beings who should be treated like everyone else!

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