Dignity within the Classroom

Inclusive Language

People with a disability can and should be described in words and expressions that portray them in an appropriate, positive and sensitive manner. The following guidelines are suggested/preferred by over 200 organization that represent/are associated with Canadians with disabilities. 

Always remember to describe the person, not the disability. Only refer to a person's disability when it is relevant and avoid words designed to evoke pity or guilt. 

If in doubt, ask! It is okay to make mistakes when you acknowledge the mistake was made and want to correct it for the future. 

Instead of...   Use...
(the) disabled People or person(s) with a disability
Crippled by, afflicted with,
or suffers from
Person who has or person with...
Physically challenged Person with a disability
Victim, sufferer Person with a disability
Cripple Person with a disability
Lame Limited mobility
Mobility impaired Limited mobility 
Confined, bound, restricted 
or dependent on a wheelchair
Wheelchair user
Normal Able-bodied
Deaf and dumb, deaf mute Person who is hard of hearing or deaf 
Hearing impaired Person who is hard of hearing or deaf 
Retarded, mentally retarded,
person with mental handicap
Person with an intellectual disability or
person with a developmental disability
Spastic (as a noun) Person with Cerebral Palsy
Deformed, congenital defect Person born with...
Visually impaired Blind or partially sighted

Compiled by Active Living Alliance for Canadians with a Disability. Supported by Fitness Canada, Government of Canada Fitness and Amateur Sport, and Government du Canada Condition physique et Sport amateur.