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Making Extra-Curricular Activities Inclusive

Speaking or Referring to Persons with Disabilities

The following are suggested guidelines to be used when speaking or referring to persons with disabilities.

  • Avoid categorizing persons with disabilities as either super-achievers or tragic figures. Choose words that are non-judgmental, non-emotional and are accurate descriptions. Avoid using "brave," "courageous," "inspirational" or other similar words that are routinely used to describe a person with a disability.
  • References which cause discomfort, guilt, pity or insult, should be avoided. Words like "suffers from," "stricken with," "afflicted by," "patient," "disease" or "sick" suggest constant pain and a sense of hopelessness. While this may be the case for some individuals, a disability is a condition that does not necessarily cause pain or require medical attention.
  • Persons with disabilities are comfortable with the terminology used to describe daily living activities. Persons who use wheelchairs go for "walks," people with visual impairments "see" what you mean, etc.
  • Remember that, although some disabilities are not visible, it does not mean they are less real. Individuals with invisible disabilities such as epilepsy, hemophilia, mental health and learning or developmental disabilities also encounter barriers and negative attitudes.


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