Another Word For Disabled Person


Share post:

Choosing Words For Talking About Disability

Top 5 – Mistakes dealing with disabled people

In daily life, how should we talk about disability? What words should we use to refer to people with disabilities? Is saying “the disabled” or “disabled people” acceptable, for example? Questions like these are important, particularly because disability represents a form of diversity, similar to one’s gender, race, ethnicity, social class, religion and so on. Knowing how to sensitively refer to members of diverse groups is also important. Let’s begin by defining some terms.

First, what does disability itself mean? A disability is a condition or quality linked to a particular person. A disability is present when activities usually performed by people are in some way restricted. Thus, someone with congenital blindness has a disability, as does someone who must use a wheelchair for mobility purposes. Other disabilities are not necessarily apparent, for example, acquired brain injury or chronic depression.

When referring to disability, the American Psychological Association urges that it is often best to “put the person first.” In practice, this means that instead of referring to a “disabled person,” use “person with a disability.” Why? The reasoning goes like this: Phrases like “disabled person” or “amputee” focus on a condition more than the person who is affected by it. Using phrases like “person with a disability” and “individual with an amputation” emphasizes the person and not his or her condition.

Add Alt Text To Visuals

Alt text helps people who cant see the screen to understand whats important in visual content. Visual content includes pictures, SmartArt graphics, shapes, groups, charts, embedded objects, ink, and videos. In alt text, briefly describe the image and mention its intent. Screen readers read the text to describe the image to users who cant see the image.

Avoid using text in images as the sole method of conveying important information. If you must use an image with text in it, repeat that text in the document. In alt text, briefly describe the image and mention the existence of the text and its intent.

Tip: To write a good alt text, make sure to convey the content and the purpose of the image in a concise and unambiguous manner. The alt text shouldnt be longer than a short sentence or twomost of the time a few thoughtfully selected words will do. Do not repeat the surrounding textual content as alt text or use phrases referring to images, such as, “a graphic of” or “an image of.” For more info on how to write alt text, go to Everything you need to know to write effective alt text.

For the step-by-step instructions on how to add alt text, go to Add alternative text to a shape, picture, chart, SmartArt graphic, or other object.

To find missing alt text, use the Accessibility Checker.


The History Of The Term ‘special Needs’

It’s not clear where the term “special needs” originated one theory is “special needs” arose following the launch of the Special Olympics in the 1960s, according to the 2016 study published in “Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications.”

The National Center on Disability and Journalism says special needs “was popularized in the U.S. in the early 20th century during a push for special needs education to serve people with all kinds of disabilities.”

Data shows it permeated the public consciousness over the last few decades. Special needs has grown increasingly popular in books the past several decades, while “handicapped” has decreased significantly.

The term is not a legal one in fact, it only appears about a dozen times across thousands of pages of laws in the U.S. “Never once are children with disabilities or adults with disabilities referred to as children with special needs or adults with special needs,” according to the study. “Rather, individuals with disabilities are always referred to in U.S. law as individuals with disabilities.”

Jamie Davis Smith, whose daughter is disabled, points out that people with disabilities are entitled to certain rights as a result from movie theater seating to Medicaid and more.

“Special needs” doesn’t offer the same legal protections.

Listen:Dad of triplets launches podcast about autism to help parents find hope

You May Like: New York State Short Term Disability

Use Accessible Text Format

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Add an underline to color-coded hyperlink text. That can help colorblind people know the text is linked even if they cant see the color.

  • Add shapes if color is used to indicate status. For example, add a checkmark symbol if green is used to indicate pass and an uppercase X if red indicates fail.

Note: These resources provide other suggestions: and Web Accessibility for Users with Color Blindness.

Words Already Phased Out In Services Industry

What Is Another Word For Disabled Person

Disability service providers have agreed the use of some words in the industry are being phased out, particularly in mental health.

Anita Veivers, executive director at Centacare in Cairns and the former chief executive officer at ARC Disability Services in Cairns, said similar changes had already occurred in service provision.

“Mental health as a term is a big step up from the term mental illness,” she said.

“Mental health focuses more on maintaining a healthier aspect and outlook, but the term wellbeing or wellness would take us into the future.”

To devise a word and see it become part of common vocabulary, and even included in a dictionary, the word needs to be used commonly for a long period of time by media, politicians and lobby groups, according to staff at the Australian National Dictionary Centre.

The centre’s Amanda Laugesen said there was a pattern of words in the services industry becoming unsuitable.

“A word like handicapped once was used very widely, but now would generally be considered to be not appropriate to use,” Dr Laugesen said.

She said if, in time, the word ‘disability’ was deemed a less preferred word, it would be still included in the dictionary with a usage note, labelling the word as offensive and noting the term was no longer used.

You May Like: What Type Of Doctor Does Disability Evaluations

Paralympian Used To Disproving Negative Perception

Grant Patterson has diastrophic dysplasia, which means his growth was stunted from birth.

He is about four feet tall, but competed on the Australian swimming team at the 2012 London Paralympics.

“I’ve never had a problem with the word disability. I do have a disability or a physical challenge or whatever, it’s still the same thing,” he said.

“For me it’s like when someone calls me a midget I see the funny side of it and we are who we are, we can’t change.”

However, Mr Patterson does feel that being a Paralympian is a more difficult accomplishment than becoming an able-bodied Olympian.

“If anything the Paralympics is more inspiring because you not only master the athleticism that’s required for that sport, but we do it with a physical challenge on top of what the elite athlete has to do,” he said.

“There isn’t a word called para-ability, but if you go back far enough the Bible has the word parable, which means ‘a story with morals’,” she said.

“We’ve always done what our parents did and so on. Even with a disability I was told to not stare at people in wheelchairs,” she said.

“Instead we need to go up and say hello, tell your children to say hello.”

Use Accessible Font Format And Color

An accessible font doesn’t exclude or slow down the reading speed of anyone reading a document, including people with low vision or reading disability or people who are blind. The right font improves the legibility and readability of the document.

For instructions on how to change the default font, go to Change the default font in Word.

Also Check: How To Get Mental Health Disability

Add Alt Text To Images

Add alt text to images such as pictures and screenshots so that screen readers can read the text to describe the image to users who cant see the image.

  • Select an image.

  • To open the Picture tab, at the bottom of the screen, at the right end of the toolbar, tap the More button.

  • Scroll down to the Alt Text option, and then tap it.

  • Type a description. Your changes are automatically saved.

    Tip: Include the most important information in the first line, and be as concise as possible.

  • Use Accessible Text Color

    Scamming disabled people

    Here are some ideas to consider:

    • Ensure that text displays well by using the Automatic setting for font colors. Select your text, and then select Home> Font Color> Automatic.

    • Use the Accessibility Checker, to analyze the document and find insufficient color contrast. The tool now checks the documents for text color against page color, table cell backgrounds, highlight, textbox fill color, paragraph shading, shape and SmartArt fills, headers and footers, and links.

    • Use the Colour Contrast Analyzer, a free app that analyzes colors and contrast, and displays results almost immediately.

    Recommended Reading: Caught Working While On Disability

    However There Are Certain Quick Tips You Ought To Remember When Talking Or Writing About People With Disabilities:

    1. Do keep in mind that the terms like ‘disabled’, ‘blind’ and ‘deaf’ are not collective nouns, but should be used as adjectives to describe people. Referring to people with disabilities as “the blind” or “the disabled” disregards their individual traits and shows their disability to be their primary characteristic. Always say “disabled people” or “blind people”.

    2. While on the one hand, you cannot call someone “deaf-mute” or “crippled”, one the other hand, making their disability sound over-euphemist by using terms such as “differently abled” and “handicapable” is also a no-no.

    3. Avoid medical labels which enforce that the person with disability is unwell or is a patient. Instead of saying “The person has cystic fibriosis”, it is preferable to say: “The person was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis”.

    4. Avoid using phrases like “blind drunk” or “deaf to our calls”, which club disabilities with failure at common actions like a negative add-on.

    5. Do not throw around words like ‘bipolar’ or ‘depressed’ or ‘spastic’ casually to offend or demean someone. It takes down the gravity of these conditions and shows them in a deliberate negative light.

    6. Everyday phrases such as being “pleased to see” someone or “going on a walk” can be applied to anybody, irrespective of whether the person can actually see or if they use a wheelchair.

    7. Address the person with disability directly, even if they have an interpreter or companion with them.

    Use Accessible Font Format

    Here are some ideas to consider:

    • To reduce the reading load, select familiar sans serif fonts such as Arial or Calibri. Avoid using all capital letters and excessive italics or underlines.

    • A person with a vision disability might miss out on the meaning conveyed by particular colors. For example, add an underline to color-coded hyperlink text so that people who are colorblind know that the text is linked even if they cant see the color.

    • For headings, consider adding bold or using a larger font.

    • Add shapes if color is used to indicate status. For example, add a checkmark symbol if green is used to indicate pass and an uppercase X if red indicates fail.

    Read Also: What Is The Difference Between Fmla And Short Term Disability

    Appropriate Terms To Use

    While there are varying preferences regarding disability terminology, there are some terms which should never be used as they are not respectful of disabled people. The below is not an exhaustive list, but is meant to provide some practical guidance and explanation for terms no longer in use and the recommended alternative

    Inclusive Language: Words To Use And Avoid When Writing About Disability

    Im Simply Me A Person Not A Disability #endtheword

    This publication is licensed under the terms of the Open Government Licence v3.0 except where otherwise stated. To view this licence, visit or write to the Information Policy Team, The National Archives, Kew, London TW9 4DU, or email: .

    Where we have identified any third party copyright information you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holders concerned.

    This publication is available at

    Consider these guidelines when communicating with or about disabled people.

    Don’t Miss: New York Life Disability Claim Status

    Disability Euphemisms That Need To Bite The Dust

    One of the biggest disparities surrounding disability is the language people use to refer to it. I prefer to be a straight shooter and keep things simple by using the term disabled person. Other people choose alternative euphemisms to avoid saying that. While I know some people genuinely embrace words other than disabled even some people who actually have disabilities I just cant get on board with that.

    Of course, I cant presume to speak for anyone other than myself, and everyone should have the right to choose how to refer to themselves so long as they dont impose it upon anyone else. However, when non-disabled people try to dance around the word disabled in an effort to be more respectful, I dont think they realize the hidden ableism behind the euphemisms. It demonstrates an assumption that disabled is a negative quality or derogatory word, when in fact, disabled is what I am. It is, in my opinion, the plainest, simplest, most straightforward, and least offensive way to refer to what my body can and cannot do.

    So, next time you hesitate to say disabled, consider why I wish these four alternate terms would kick the bucket:

    ‘disability’ And ‘disabled’ Have Become The Most Commonly Accepted And Inoffensive Terms That Can Be Used In Both British And American English But There Are Certain Quick Tips You Ought To Remember When Talking Or Writing About People With Disabilities:

    : Common English language gas changed drastically in recent times when it comes to terms considered suitable to refer to people with disabilities. A lot of focus is now put to making sure that terms and phrases used to refer to disabilities do not negatively stereotypes those with disabilities.

    The United Spinal Association, which offers a 36-page PDF on how to be sensitive to people with disabilities says: “While the disability is an integral part of who they are, it alone does not define them. Don’t make them into disability heroes or victims. Treat them as individuals.”

    ‘Disability’ and ‘disabled’ have become the most commonly accepted and inoffensive terms that can be used, in both British and American English.

    Don’t Miss: Mental Health Short Term Disability

    Guidelines For Writing And Referring To People With Disabilities

  • Do not refer to a disability or condition unless it is crucial to your subject and relates to the full understanding of your listener or reader.
  • Avoid portraying as superhuman the accomplishments of a person with a disability. This inadvertently implies that a person with a disability lacks or has very limited skills, talents, or unusual gifts.
  • Do not use subjective terms such as afflicted with, victim of, troubled with, suffering from and so on. Such expressions convey negative connotations. It is preferable to use an expression such as a person who has .
  • Avoid labeling persons and putting them in categories, as in the handicapped, the disabled, the deaf, the retarded, the learning disabled,and so on. Instead, use terminology such as: a person who has multiple sclerosis, people with disabilities, a person with deafness, and so on.
  • Emphasize the individual not the disability. Rather than using terms such as disabled person, handicapped people, a crippled person, use terms such as people/persons with disabilities, a person with a disability, or a person with a visual impairment.
  • Do not use subjective descriptors such as “unfortunate”, “pitiful”, or “sad” when describing people with disabilities. Emphasize abilities, for example, instead of saying John is confined to his wheelchair, use a positive expression of ability such as John uses a wheelchair. Or, rather than .
  • It is preferable to use terms such as consumer or person with a disability rather than terms such as client.
  • Viewpoint: Is It Time To Stop Using The Word Disability

    Living and overcoming life with a disability

    After running a campaign to urge toy manufacturers to include disabled characters in their collections, Rebecca Atkinson started to wonder if the word “disability” might also need a positive makeover.

    Cripple, deaf-mute and lame all fell out of favour a long time ago and are now considered insults. By the 1980s and 90s “handicapped” was gradually replaced with “disabled” as a new way of thinking about disability emerged – called the social model. Attitudes change and as a consequence so does language.

    Recently there has been a shift towards person-first language and now “people with disabilities” is often more popular in general usage over its predecessor “disabled people”. I have noticed too that people in the disability community sometimes like to emphasise the “ability” part of the word with hyphens or capital letters: dis-ability or disAbility.

    In April this year I started an online campaign urging the toy industry to include positive representation for the 150 million children worldwide with disabilities. I began making-over toys by marrying princesses with guide dogs or wheelchairs and giving hearing aids to fairies to create a fun and colourful disability aesthetic. I took photos of my creations and posted them on the web under the name ToyLikeMe.

    If we don’t use the term disabled, though, what do we use to describe someone who has an impairment to set them apart from the majority?

    Also Check: Disability For Arthritis In Spine

    Check Accessibility While You Work In Word

    The Accessibility Checker is a tool that reviews your content and flags accessibility issues it comes across. It explains why each issue might be a potential problem for someone with a disability. The Accessibility Checker also suggests how you can resolve the issues that appear.

    In Word, the Accessibility Checker runs automatically in the background when you’re creating a document. If the Accessibility Checker detects accessibility issues, you will get a reminder in the status bar.

    To manually launch the Accessibility Checker, select Review > Check Accessibility. The Accessibility pane opens, and you can now review and fix accessibility issues. For more info, go to Improve accessibility with the Accessibility Checker and Check document accessibility.

    Tip: Use the Accessibility Reminder add-in for Office to notify authors and contributors of accessibility issues in their documents. With the add-in, you can quickly add reminder comments that spread awareness of accessibility issues and encourage the use of the Accessibility Checker. For more info, go to Use the Accessibility Reminder to notify authors of accessibility issues.

    Related articles

    Can’t Work Due To Disability

    Can You Get Disability For Migraine ...

    Back Pay For Va Disability

    Who Can File A Va Disability Claim ...

    Filing For Disability In Nc

    The Disability Application Process VA...