Working within the disability sector the language around people with disabilities becomes second nature. Every now and then we get an enquiry in, or look at the search terms people use to find us and are surprised by the terms people are using.
Digital accessibility is full of acronyms and learning the lingo is bad enough, but then add in worrying if the term you are referring to people or situations will be deemed offensive or politically incorrect can often stop people from reaching out and asking for help. So we’ve looked at the most used terms from those first time customers to help you talk about disabilities and accessibility with confidence.
We’re not here to judge you, we’re here to help – from disability friendly websites to websites for the disabled. We’ll have your digital offerings inclusive, accessible and usable by disabled people – as well as support you around language. We’d love for you to have the confidence to ask for help where needed and know that no question is a stupid one – all that matters is you want to improve your customer experience for all your customers.
To avoid negativity and exclusion, the UK government and other accessibility experts have come up with different words and expressions, that should be used to promote equal opportunities and diversity in society:
|The handicapped, the disabled||disabled (people)|
|afflicted by, suffers from,||has [name of condition or impairment]|
|mentally handicapped, mentally defective, retarded, subnormal||with a learning disability (singular) with learning disabilities (plural)|
|cripple, invalid||disabled person|
|Spastic||person with cerebral palsy|
|mental patient, insane, mad||person with a mental health condition|
|deaf and dumb; deaf mute||deaf, user of British Sign Language (BSL), person with a hearing impairment|
|the blind||people with visual impairments; blind people; blind and partially sighted people, the users of assistive technologies.|
|fits, spells, attacks||seizures|
|people with a visual processing deficit,||cognitive disabilities|
|Inaccessible, non-intuitive||Inclusive design:|
- Government publications – inclusive language
- Guide: Inclusive Language and Vocabulary for Start-ups and Tech