People First Language is a way of communicating that reflects respect for people with disabilities by choosing words that portray them accurately. Emphasis is placed on the person first, rather than the disability.


Say/Write… Instead of…
Child with a disability handicapped child or disabled
Individual with cerebral palsy palsied, CP or spastic
Person who has…. Afflicted, suffers from, victim of
Nonverbal (with speech) mute or dumb
Person with autism autistic
Developmental delay slow or retarded
Emotional disorder/mental illness crazy or insane
Deaf or has a hearing impairment deaf and dumb
Communicates with sign language signer
Uses a wheelchair confined to a wheelchair
Has a cognitive or intellectual disability retarded
He has epilepsy epileptic
Adult with Down syndrome mongoloid, suffers from Down syndrome
Has a learning disability is learning disabled
Has a physical disability is physically disabled/crippled
Non-disabled; with disabilities normal, healthy
Congenital disability birth defect
Condition disease (unless it IS)
Seizures fits
Cleft lip hare lip
Has mobility impairment lame or crippled
Paralyzed invalid or paralytic
Has quadriplegia quadriplegic
Has paraplegia paraplegic