In this politically correct world we live in, it is hard to keep up-to-date with what we can and can’t say and write. Not everyone will agree on everything. The government have published some basic guidelines that schools may like to consider, when communicating with or about disabled people.

One of our member schools contacted us to ask for guidelines on appropriate terminology to use when referring to disabled people. As members of the PSHE Association, we were only too happy to help. In schools it is even more important that we get it right, not only so we don’t cause offence, but also because we are modelling and teaching the adults of tomorrow what is appropriate language to use.

Goverment guidelines for talking about disability

We found a really useful table (below) that we felt was worth sharing. It shows, at a glance, what terms we should avoid using and what language is okay to use. The table comes from the Government paper entitled:

‘Inclusive language: words to use and avoid when writing about disability’

To read the full article, click on the link above.

(the) handicapped, (the) disableddisabled (people)
afflicted by, suffers from, victimhas [name of condition or impairment]
confined to a wheelchair, wheelchair-boundwheelchair user
cripple, invalid disabled person
mentally handicapped, mentally defective, retarded, subnormal with a learning disability (singular) with learning disabilities (plural)
spastic person with cerebral palsy
mental patient, insane, madperson with mental health condition
deaf and dumb; deaf mutedeaf, user of British Sign Language (BSL), person with a hearing impairment
the blindpeople with visual impairments; blind people; blind and partially sighted people
an epileptic, depressive, and so onperson with epilepsy, diabetes, depression or someone who has epilepsy, diabetes, depression
dwarf; midgetsomeone with restricted growth or short stature
fits, spells, attacksseizures


3D PSHE handles sensitive topics and language well

Feedback from schools about our 3D PSHE products tells us that tricky topics – particularly in Years 5 and 6  – are handled very sensitively and appropriately. Our materials are an enormous help for teachers unsure of how to address sex and relationships and extremism and radicalisation.

Click here for details of our PHSE Primary Programme.