Reporting on disability

Scope has a major role to play in raising awareness and changing attitudes and behaviours towards disability and disabled people. We want to change society. How we talk can help us lead the way in changing stereotypes to make change happen. We use the social model of disability to talk about our work and the lives of disabled people.   

Words to use when talking about or reporting on disability

There are some words that many disabled people find hurtful or harsh because they:

  • suggest disabled people are helpless

  • are pitying

  • are often used abusively.

Here are some tips on language that’s largely preferred: 

You could say You should avoid
Disabled person,
person with a disability
Cripple, the disabled, sufferer
Non-disabled person Able-bodied, normal person
Deaf person, hard of hearing person The deaf
Blind person, visually impaired person The blind
Person with restricted growth,
Person of shorter stature
Person with a learning disability Retard, slow, simple
Person with Down syndrome Down's kid, Downs sufferer
Person with a mental health problem Mental patient, psycho, schizo, mental
A wheelchair user Wheelchair-bound, confined to a wheelchair

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