Some disability activists and groups prefer identity-first language (“disabled people”), as opposed to person-first language (“people with disabilities”). Always follow a person’s or group’s self-identification. When you cannot ask them or it’s unknown, default to person-first language.

  • Blind” refers to someone with total vision loss. Otherwise, describe the degree of vision loss that is applicable, such as “low vision” or “limited vision.”
  • Deaf” is an adjective, not a noun. Lowercase it in all uses, except if a person explicitly prefers to capitalize it, such as when referring to Deaf communities.
  • Hard of hearing” is acceptable for people who have partial hearing loss.
    • Avoid “hearing-impaired,” as it disempowers (describes someone in terms of what they cannot do) rather than neutrally describes a condition.
  • Avoid describing a person as “handicapped.” Instead, describe the disability.
  • Nondisabled” refers to someone who does not have a disability. Use caution with the term “able-bodied,” as some view it as meaning people with disabilities lack “able bodies.”
  • A person “uses a wheelchair.” Avoid phrases that insinuate a wheelchair is a hindrance, such as “confined to a wheelchair” or “wheelchair-bound.”