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.
Pope of the Dictionary.com Forum
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.
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.
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!
Last edited by Rover_KE; 04-Oct-2013 at 08:38.