Here are twelve words often used to describe disabilities. Which of these words do you think are normally considered ok to use and which do you think should be avoided?


  1. handicapped
  2. disabled people
  3. “the disabled”, “the blind”, “the deaf”
  4. cripple
  5. people with disabilities
  6. people with learning difficulties
  7. mental handicap
  8. Mongol
  9. wheelchair user
  10. confined to a wheelchair
  11. spastic
  12. wheelchair-bound


Scroll down to learn the answers

diversity language quiz - disabilities


Quiz Answers: How Diversity-Aware is your Language


When we re-examine our choice of words we can see how some words can cause offense.


The following words are generally considered ok to use:




  • disabled people
  • people with disabilities
  • people with learning difficulties
  • wheelchair user


These words should be avoided:



  • Handicapped – offensive because it suggests dependency and incapacity
  • “the disabled”, “the blind”, “the deaf” – Dehumanises people by grouping them solely by their physical condition
  • mental handicap – The word ‘mental’ often implies mental illness to people and people with learning difficulties do not have mental health problems as a consequence of their disability.
  • confined to a wheelchair, wheelchair-bound – These terms convey helplessness and inspire pity.
  • cripple, Mongol, spastic – These terms are completely unacceptable and you should challenge any child using them.



Challenge discrimination in any form; don’t ignore it

Encourage questions and answer them directly


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