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Words Matter

The following list depicts phrases and terms that are generally considered appropriate, as well as terms and phrases to avoid using. Please keep in mind that language is constantly evolving and not everyone has the same preference, so the best guideline when referring to people is to ASK.

PREFERRED

AVOID

accessible parking/accommodations

handicapped accessible

children with disabilities

special children

Individual without a disability

able-bodied; normal; whole

individual with a physical disability

crippled, handicapped; deformed; defective

individual with a spinal cord injury

quadriplegic; paraplegic; incapacitated

individual with multiple sclerosis (MS)

person who suffers from MS

individual who uses a wheelchair

wheelchair-bound/confined to a wheelchair

individual who is blind or has low vision

the blind

individual who is deaf or hard of hearing

the deaf; deaf and dumb; mute; hearing impaired

individual with burns

burn victim; disfigured

individual of short stature

dwarf or midget

individual who had a stroke

stroke victim/suffered from a stroke

individual with a cleft lip/cleft palate

hare lip

Individual with a congenital disability

deformed/person with birth defect

individual with epilepsy or a seizure disorder

epileptic; spastic; person who has "fits" or "attacks"

Individual living with HIV or AIDS

HIV or AIDS victim

individual with a learning disability

slow learner; retarded; stupid

Individual with an intellectual disability

slow; retarded; dim-witted

Individual with dyslexia

dyslexic

Individual with a psychiatric disability or with a mental health diagnosis

crazy; maniac; lunatic; demented; schizo; psycho; feeble-minded

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