Facts and Etiquette Tips

The Virginia Commonwealth University Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Workplace Supports

The word disability has greater acceptance among people with disabilities versus the word handicapped. Too often handicapped conjures up ideas of hand out or hat in hand.

When referring to a person with a disability it is best to use "person with mental retardation, or person with cerebral palsy". This recognizes the individual first, and the disability second.

The word "disabled" should not be used as a collective noun, "the disabled", because it could imply a group that is separate from the rest of society.

Referring to an individual's medial condition can be misleading, as no two people are alike. In fact these labels tend to reinforce stereotypes of people with disabilities as patients who depended upon the medical profession.

It is best to avoid any words or phrases which would invite pity, or reinforce impressions of dependency such as victim, crippled, suffering, or confinement.

Do not be embarrassed to use such common phrases as "see you later" with a person who is blind or "lets take a walk" to a person who uses a wheelchair.

Adapted from: The Employers' Forum on Disability