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Empowering Terms
Broward County > Intergovernmental > ADA/HIPAA > Empowering Terms
Acceptable Terms Unacceptable Terms
Person, person with a disability Cripple, crippled- The incorrect image conveyed is of a deformed useless body
Disability, a general term used for functional limitation that interferes with a person's ability, for example, to hear, walk, learn, or lift. It may refer to a physical, mental or sensory condition. Handicap, handicapped person, or handicapped
People with cerebral palsy, people with spinal cord injuries. Cerebral palsied, spinal cord injured, etc. Never identify people solely by their disability
People with spinal cord injury, polio, a stroke, etc., or a person who has multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, arthritis, etc. Victim; people with disabilities do not like to be perceived as victims for the rest of their lives, long after any victimization has occurred
Has a disability, has a condition of (spina bifida, etc.), or born without legs, etc. Defective, defect, deformed vegetable- these words are offensive, dehumanizing, degrading and stigmatizing
Deaf/Hearing Impaired "Deaf" refers to a person who has a total loss of hearing. "Hearing Impaired refers to a person with partial loss of hearing within a range from slight to severe Deaf and dumb- is as bad as it sounds. Inability to hear or speak does not indicate any less intelligence
Person who has a mental or development disability Retarded, moron, imbecile, idiot - These are offensive and inaccurate
Uses a wheelchair or crutches; a wheelchair user; walks with crutches Confined/Restricted to a wheelchair, wheelchair bound. Most people who use a wheelchair or mobility devices do not regard them as confining. They are viewed as liberating, a means of getting around
Able-bodied; able to walk, see, hear, etc.; people who are not disabled Healthy- when used to contrast with ‘disabled,' ‘healthy' implies the person with a disability is unhealthy. Many people with disabilities have excellent health.

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