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State Council for Persons with Disabilities


People First Language

People First Language recognizes that individuals with disabilities are first and foremost, people. It emphasizes each person's value, individuality, dignity, and capabilities.  The following examples provide guidance on what terms to use and which ones are inappropriate when speaking to, talking or writing about people with disabilities.

People First Language Offensive Labels

People or Persons with disabilities.

Differently abled, challenged, handicapped or disabled.

He/she has a congenital disability.

Birth defect.

Person who is deaf or hard of hearing.

Deaf-mute, deaf and dumb, etc.

A person who uses a wheelchair.

Wheelchair bound or confined to a chair.

A person with a brain injury.

Brain damaged.

A person who has an intellectual disability.

Retarded or mentally retarded.

People with autism or on the autism spectrum.


People with chemical or environmental sensitivities.


A person with Down syndrome.

Down's kid or a mongoloid kid.

A person with learning disabilities.

He/she is learning disabled or a slow learner.

He's/she's of short stature or he's/she's short.

He's/she's a dwarf.

He/she has a physical disability.

He's/she's crippled.

A person with spinal cord injury.


Amputee or person who lost a limb.

Gimp, lame, stubby.

He's/she's blind or has low vision.

Visually handicapped, blind as a bat.

Burn survivor.

Burn victim.

Service animal or dog.

Seeing eye dog.

A person with an emotional disability.

Emotionally disturbed.

Typical kids or kids without disabilities.

Normal and/or healthy kids.

He/she receives special education.

He's/she's in special ed.

Accessible parking, bathrooms, etc.

Handicapped parking, bathrooms, etc.

He/she has a need for. . .

He/she has a problem with. . .

How should I describe you or your disability?

What happened to you?