How to refer to disability

Over the last decade, the way in which we refer to people with disabilities has changed. Many words and phrases that were traditionally used are now considered offensive to people with disabilities.

Applications to the Quality of Life Grants Program should use "disability-friendly" or "people-first language."

Here are some tips for how to refer to disability in your application:

Adapted from the Research and Training Center on Independent Living at University of Kansas Women's by Snake Dress Strata Carlos Santana Black Carlos Guidelines: How to Write and Report About People with Disabilities

Put people first, not their disability

  • Use phrases such as Strata Carlos Black Carlos Snake Women's Dress Santana by woman with a spinal cord injury, a child who has a physical disability, or person with a disability. This puts the focus on the individual, not the condition or cause of their disability.
  • Don't label people as a disability. For example, don't use the phrase Maria is a quad. Write Maria is a young woman with quadriplegia.
  • Don't refer to groups as a disability. Use people with cystic fibrosis or people who have cancer.
  • Use the word accessible to refer to accommodations for people who have a disability. For example, replace disabled or handicapped parking space or playground with accessible parking space or playground.

Avoid negative labeling and condescending euphemisms

Don't imply disease when discussing disabilities

Don't refer to individuals with disabilities as patients or cases unless their relationship with their doctor is under discussion, or if they are referenced in the context of a hospital or clinical setting.

Emphasize abilities, not limitations

For example, say our clients use a wheelchair instead of are confined to wheelchairs or wheelchair-bound.

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Access the full document from which this was adapted: Ficke Womens patent Vittadini black crinkle Adrienne UH1wqU.

Other valuable resources regarding disability are also available on the Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas website. (See "Bestsellers" or "Media".)

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This project was supported, in part, by grant number 90PRRC0002, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.