Disability Etiquette/Person First Terminology

Reference a person's disability only if it is relevant to this situation. Here's how:

Person First Term

Inappropriate Terms

person with a disability

disabled person,cripple, invalid, gimp, lame, handicapped, physically challenged, limited, differently-abled, handi-capable, victim, afflicted with, stricken, suffers from, special, has problems or special needs,  limited, physical limitations, deformed, poor, unfortunate

person who is blind or is visually impaired the blind

person who is deaf or hard of hearing

suffers a hearing loss

person with a disease or condition

victim, stricken by, afflicted by

person with an intellectual disability

retarded, mentally retarded, MR, slow, retardation, brain damaged

person with epilepsy or with seizure disorder


person who uses a wheelchair

confined or restricted to a wheelchair,wheelchair bound, confined, or in a wheelchair

person without disabilities

normal person (implies person with a disability isn't normal), non disabled person

person who doesn’t use speech to communicate

non-verbal, dumb, mute

person with a physical disability

cripple, deformed, invalid, gimp, lame, handicapped, physically challenged, limited, deformed

person with a mental illness crazy, insane, mental patient

Remember what is OK for some people may not be OK for others.  If you are unsure, please ask the person how she or he describes himself or herself.  When in doubt, call the person by his or her name. 


Please click here for the PDF version of the Disability Etiquette Guide

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