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Disability Terminology & Etiquette

Person-First vs. Identity-First

Terminology in Practice

Here is how these terms work in practice, according to The National Disability Authority and The National Center on Disability and Journalism:

List of Acceptable Terms to Use
Person-First Identity-First Offensive and Not Recommended
person with a disability disabled person the disabled, cripple, victim, spastic, spaz, handicapped, the handicapped, abnormal, dumb/deaf-mute, defect, defective, midget, or vegetable
person with an intellectual disability intellectually-disabled person mental handicap, mentally retarded, or mentally handicapped
person with a mental health disability mentally-disabled person mad, crazy, schizo, schizophrenic, insane, nuts, psycho, psychotic, demented, senile, loony, or lunatic
person who uses a wheelchair wheelchair user wheelchair-bound or confined to a wheelchair
has… (diagnosis) adjective form of diagnosis (i.e. ‘autistic’) person suffers from… afflicted with… stricken with… or victim of…
person without a disability not disabled or non-disabled normal
Service Animal Etiquette

Etiquette in Practice

Do Don't
Speak to the handler when greeting a service dog team. Speak to, pet, make eye contact or distract a service dog in any way. You may distract the service dog from its work.
Know service dog vests and/or certification cards are not required by law, however, most service dogs wear a vest identifying them as such. Be offended if a handler does not want to answer your questions about life with a service dog. Keep in mind the handler may be trying to get someplace in a hurry.
Allow a service dog to work without distraction. Offer a service dog food.
Know service dogs are valued and well-loved family members who enjoy their jobs. Feel bad for services dogs when you see them working in public. They get play time, attention and love from their handlers and immediate family members.
Mobility Aid Etiquette

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