The Department for Work & Pensions and the Office for Disability Issues have published Guidance entitled, ‘Inclusive language: words to use and avoid when writing about disability’, to be considered when communicating with or about disabled people. Some of the key points are as follows:
– The word ‘disabled’ is a description not a group of people. Use ‘disabled people’ not ‘the disabled’ as the collective term.
– Avoid phrases like ‘suffers from’ which suggests discomfort, constant pain and a sense of hopelessness.
– Common phrases that may associate impairments with negative things should be avoided, for example ‘deaf to our pleas’ or ‘blind drunk’.
The guidance also contains a comprehensive list of words to use and avoid, e.g. (i) don’t use mentally handicapped, mentally defective, retarded, subnormal, but do use with a learning disability (singular) or with learning disabilities (plural); (ii) don’t use an epileptic, diabetic, depressive, and so on, but do use a person with epilepsy, diabetes, depression or someone who has epilepsy, diabetes, depression.