The use of some words can perpetuate discriminatory behaviour and can act as a barrier to engagement into society. They can be offensive to individuals or to a group of people.

In terms of disabled people as a group, irrespective of impairment, it is appropriate to use the term disabled people. If you are referring to someone’s medical condition or health problem then the term impairment is generally accepted as the appropriate phrase; for example ‘people with a visual impairment’, or ‘hearing impairment’, or ‘physical impairment’.

It is inappropriate to use words such as retard, spacca, lame or mong when talking to someone, about someone or just in general conversation when you actually mean something very very different such as idiot or rubbish. If you imagine how it must feel to have something that defines you being used to mean stupid, fundamentally broken or that there’s something disgusting and wrong with you. This would obviously have quite detrimental impacts on your self-esteem and would keep chipping away at your self confidence.


For example if the word blonde became a word that was used to describe something negative and was then used in everyday conversations as ‘oh my god that’s so blonde’ as a blonde person you may become self-conscious about your blonde hair, eventually withdrawing from conversations and end up socially isolating yourself because ultimately you will come to believe that you are worthless.

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