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    #1

    Proper words for the disabled

    Hi, I would like to know what is the latest word(s) for the phiysically diabled people. What words should I use so that I would not offence the majyority of the people? There may be some difference among English speaking countries, but I'd be appreciated if you could kindly tell me what you think is the best word(s) for these people.
    Thank you.

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Proper words for the disabled

    Quote Originally Posted by hetzer View Post
    Hi, I would like to know what is the latest word(s) for the phiysically diabled people. What words should I use so that I would not offence the majyority of the people? There may be some difference among English speaking countries, but I'd be appreciated if you could kindly tell me what you think is the best word(s) for these people.
    Thank you.
    This area of English has become very difficult. It is almost impossible to broach the subject without offending somebody. The term "disabled" is an offensive word for some. Yet, the US has the Americans with Disabilities Act. That works for me. But it covers a spectrum of disabilities. Do you have a particular disability in mind?

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Proper words for the disabled

    In BrE, you will hear a variety of possibilities - disabled, less able, ability-challenged, differently-abled, physically challenged, and I'm sure several more. Most of these are probably used without the risk of causing much offence although, of course, there are some people (disabled and non-disabled) who readily take offence at just about anything! I will give you a few words you must never use in BrE - cripple, flid, spastic and spaz (a contraction of "spastic"). Those words are most definitely no-nos whether they are directed at disabled people or not.

    The two people I know who are not "able-bodied" would prefer you to call them by their name, not by a generic label based on their physical problems.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  3. 5jj's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Proper words for the disabled

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    The two people I know who are not "able-bodied" would prefer you to call them by their name, not by a generic label based on their physical problems.


    However, it is sometimes desirable to have a word for people who are not completely able-bodied.The pedant in me dislikes 'Disabled Toilet' - it suggests to me a facility that has been put out of action - but there does need to be some term for such facilities.

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    #5

    Re: Proper words for the disabled

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post


    ... but there does need to be some term for such facilities.
    I agree — also disabled badge/parking/ramp/entrance/lift etc.

    My impression is that people who qualify for said facilities are happy enough to use them without feeling offended or demeaned.

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    #6

    Re: Proper words for the disabled

    People-first language is used a lot- people with disabilities. The idea is that you're always a person first, so it is better to say a person with xxxx than an xxxx person.

  4. Raymott's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Proper words for the disabled

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    People-first language is used a lot- people with disabilities. The idea is that you're always a person first, so it is better to say a person with xxxx than an xxxx person.
    I'm one of those against it. I think "a person who is retarded"; "a person who is a retard"; "a person who has retardation" is not a lot better than a "retarded person".
    Also, the concept that you must say "person" before "disabled" doesn't seem to me to equate to you treating him as a person before as being disabled. This concept doesn't occur elsewhere in English. In fact most often, we leave out 'person'. We say "I'm a teacher", not "I'm a person who teaches" - even though many teachers would rather be thought of as persons first. "You're a person who beats his wife!"; "You're a wife-beating person!"; "You beat your wife!" - Do they really make a social difference?
    The fact that a disabled person is a person doesn't need entrenching in the language. "Disabled toilets" becomes "Toilets for disabled people", then "Toilets for people with a disability".

    The idea is that, since every person is a person, people-first language is redundant - except as a social-engineering tool. And there will always be new tools as the old ones wear thin. "Differently-abled" is still used by some in Australia. Whether it means the person can fly or walk on water, I'm not sure. It seems usually to refer to persons with what we would normally consider disabilities though.

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    #8

    Re: Proper words for the disabled

    Thank you for your pointers. When I'd like to talk about 'physically handicapped' people, what word or words woud you use? I have heard of the 'challenged', which some mentioned, but is 'challenged people' accepted by many?
    Thank you all for your advice!

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    #9

    Re: Proper words for the disabled

    Quote Originally Posted by hetzer View Post
    ... is 'challenged people' accepted by many?
    Not by anybody I know, hetzer.

    I use 'disabled'. If anybody takes offence — tough.

    If I go blind, lose a leg or have a stroke in later life you can call me disabled, too.
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 04-Oct-2013 at 08:38.

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    #10

    Re: Proper words for the disabled

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    And there will always be new tools as the old ones wear thin.
    It would be good if the terms used were decided on once and for all- the constant changes can leave people unsure of what to say. The people-first approach may be redundant, but it does stop referring to people as just their illness or condition, and could prevent the need for new terms every other year. It also avoids the excesses of earlier attempts like the alternately/differently-abled. As long as it doesn't get revised, it strikes me as a polite and straightforward method.

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