Dissing those derogatory disability terms
Disability language has changed dramatically in recent decades — most would argue for the better — but even advocates for change feel some of these new terms are a step too far in political correctness.
The NSW Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care, which has compiled a list of what's okay to say and and what’s not, advises against using “nice” euphemisms, such as intellectually challenged, differently abled and physically challenged.
These are a “denial of reality”, the department says. “Don’t use them.”
And calling somebody special or brave just because they have a disability is downright patronising, they say.
Also, it’s not okay to use the word normal to distinguish from people with a disability.
Instead, using double negatives, such as non-disabled or person without a disability, is better or descriptive terms, such as sighted, hearing and ambulant.
Even for doctors, it can be hard to find the right language to describe people with disabilities. So here are a few more useful dos and don’ts: