Words to describe people with disability

Here are some ways that people with disability are described.  This list includes “out-dated language” – terms and phrases that should not be used. This list also includes respectful words which should be used to describe different impairments. What is “okay” for some people is not ‘okay’ for others.  If you don’t know what to say, just ask how a person likes to be described.

Impairment Out-Dated Language Respectful Language
Blind or Vision Impairment Dumb, Invalid, Blind Freddy Blind/Vision Impaired; Person who is blind; Person with vision impairment
Deaf or Hearing Impairment Invalid, Deaf-and-Dumb, Deaf-Mute Deaf or hearing impaired, Deaf person; Person with hearing impairment
Speech/Communication Impairment Dumb, “One who talks bad” Person with a speech / communication impairment, Speech impaired
Learning Disability Retarded, Slow, Brain- Damaged, “Special ed” Learning disability, Cognitive disability, Person with a learning or cognitive disability
Mental Illness Hyper-sensitive, Psycho, Crazy, Insane, Wacko, Nuts, Mad Person with a psychosocial disability; Person with psychiatric disability, Person with mental illness
Mobility/Physical Disability Handicapped, Physically Challenged, “Special,” Deformed, Cripple, Gimp, Spastic, Spaz, Wheelchair-bound, Lame Wheelchair user,  Person with mobility or physical disability
Intellectual/ Cognitive Disability Retard, Mentally retarded,
“Special ed”
Person with an intellectual/ cognitive/developmental disability
Short Stature Dwarf, Midget Person of short stature
Health Conditions Victim, Someone “stricken with” a disability

(i.e. “someone stricken with cancer” or “an AIDS victim”)

Someone “living with” a specific health condition (i.e. “someone living with cancer or AIDS”)