Listed below are examples of negative, stereotypical, and sometimes offensive words and expressions. Also listed are examples of preferred language, which describes without implying a negative judgment. Even though their connotations may change with time, the rationale behind use of these expressions provides a basis for language reevaluation.
The specific recommendations are not intended to be all-inclusive. The basic principles, however, apply in the formulation of all nonhandicapping language.
Comment: Preferred expressions avoid the implication that the person as a whole is disabled or defective.
|disabled person||person with (who has) a disability|
|defective child||child with a congenital disability; child with a birth impairment|
|mentally ill person||person with mental illness or psychiatric disability|
Comment: Because the person is not the disability, the two concepts should be separate.
|schizophrenics||people who have schizophrenia|
|epileptics||individuals with epilepsy|
|amputee||person with an amputation|
|paraplegics||individuals with paraplegia|
|the disabled||people with disabilities|
|the retarded||children with mental retardation|
|the mentally ill||people with a mental illness or psychiatric disability|
|the CMI or SPMI||people with long-term or serious and persistent mental illness or psychiatric disabilities|
Comment: These names imply that a person is sick or under a doctor's care. People with disabilities should not be referred to as patients or invalids unless the illness status (if any) is under discussion or unless they are currently residing in a hospital.
Comment: Preferred expressions limit the scope of the disability. Even if a person has a particular physical disability, this does not mean that the person is unable to do all physical activities. Similarly, a child with a learning disability does not have difficulty in all areas of learning nor does mental retardation imply retardation in all aspects of development. Chronicity in physical illness often implies a permanent situation, but persons with psychiatric disabilities are able to recover.
|the physically disabled||individuals with a physical disability|
|the learning disabled||children with specific learning disabilities|
|retarded adult||adult with mental retardation|
|chronic mental illness||long-term or persistent mental illness or psychiatric disability|
Comment: Objectionable expressions have excessive, negative overtones and suggest continued helplessness.
|stroke victim||individual who had a stroke|
|afflicted with cerebral palsy||person with cerebral palsy|
|suffering from multiple sclerosis||people who have multiple sclerosis|
Comment: The person is not confined to a wheelchair but uses it for mobility; a person is not homebound who is taught or who works at home.
|confined to a wheelchair||uses a wheelchair|
|homebound||child who is taught at home|
|cripple||person who has a limp|
|deformed||person with a shortened arm|
|mongoloid||child with Down Syndrome|
|crazy, paranoid||person with symptoms of mental illness|
Comment: In many instances, persons with disabilities are not given opportunities to participate in decisions regarding the services or supports they will receive as part of a treatment or rehabilitation program. Instead, they are viewed as requiring "management" as patients or cases, rather than as individuals with goals and preferences that should be taken into account.
|placement||discussion of suitable and preferred living arrangements|
|professional judgment||include a consideration of a person's goals and preferences|
|patient management, case management||care coordination, supportive services, resource coordination, assistance|
Comment: Discussions regarding the service needs of persons with disabilities and their families often use terms that define the individual as a burden or a problem. Instead, terms that reflect the special needs of these persons are preferable, with a clear recognition of the responsibility of communities for inclusion and support of persons with disabilities.
|family burden||family supports needs|
|problem of mental illness or of the mentally ill||challenges that people with psychiatric disabilities face|
|community support needs of individuals||responsibilities of communities for inclusion and support|