Osborne Thomas celebrates UK Disability History Month.
Using acceptable terminology to talk about disability is not merely about being ‘politically correct’ – it is about removing barriers, changing assumptions and creating an inclusive environment that welcomes all.
As an organisation who employs a number of people with disabilities – and as a recruiter talking every day with people with disabilities – we regularly review our own terminology. UK Disability History Month reminds us that terminology changes and we understand that, for many, using the wrong language comes from being unaware rather than being willfully hurtful. So, it is important to us that we use the proper vocabulary when discussing disabilities.
Just one example (there is much more information available to us if we seek it), when it comes to general inclusive terminology, you should not use the term ‘the disabled’ when referring to a collective group; instead, use ‘people with disabilities’ to put emphasis on the fact that individuals are not defined by a disability – the term disabled is descriptive, not a group of people.
Acceptable: people with disabilities
Unacceptable: the disabled, the handicapped
With regards to accessible facilities:
Acceptable: accessible toilets/parking, parking for blue or orange badge holders
Unacceptable: disability-friendly, disabled toilets/parking
You should also avoid using terms like ‘able-bodied’ as this implies people with disabilities are unable – instead, use ‘non-disabled’.
Many people may avoid engaging with the topic of disability and the correct terminology for fear of saying the wrong thing. However, learning about acceptable terms can go a long way to make people feel more included and accepted by society.
That’s what we do. What about you?