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NCHPAD - Building Healthy Inclusive Communities

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When Speaking About or With a Person with a Physical Disability


  • Always use person-first language. While it might not be the most concise way to describe an individual, it is the most respectful.
  • When referring to someone without disability, it is appropriate to use the term non-disabled. Avoid the term able-bodied.
  • There are a wide range of physical disabilities and associated causes and levels of function. Consider each unique situation and remember that people with disability are as diverse as people without disability.
  • Do not assume that a person with disability is unhappy or has the desire to be “cured.”
  •  Individuals who are paralyzed have varying levels of paralysis. Do not assume a person is paralyzed from the waist down unless you are certain of his or her diagnosis.
  • Try not to give undue praise for everyday situations and accomplishments simply because an individual has a disability. Limit these types of praises and compliments to individuals with disability who truly accomplish inspirational or heroic achievements.
  •  A disability is not a negative characteristic and should not be portrayed as such.
  •  An individual who uses a wheelchair may have any varying degree of mobility, but is never “bound” or “con-fined” to his or her wheelchair.
  •  Apply the same principles, considerations and respect with everyone.
  • Be prepared to offer information in alternate formats.
  •  Speak directly to the individual not his or her care taker or interpreter.

 

 


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