Wheelchair bound
Why...   People are not 'trapped' in their wheelchairs 24 hours a day.
  Wheelchair user or person who uses a wheelchair
  The disabled
Why...  Disabled people are individuals; 'The' denotes a group
  Disabled people
  People with disabilities
Disability is not the attribute of an individual (like an impairment), rather, disability is due to external factors
  Disabled people
Disabled toilet
Why... Adding 'disabled' before the word implies that the object is not working
Accessible toilet
  Invalid, Spastic, Handicapped, Mental, Abnormal
Why... These are negative, hurtful words
Disabled person
Why... Implies the person is 'trapped'
  Complex needs, not able to regularly leave the house
Why... Negative word
  Impairments, difficulties
  to Suffers from ... (and terms like "shame" or "pity" or "victim of ...")
Why... Implies guilt and sorrow
  Person living with ... , person who has ...
  Is ...(disability, e.g. "Jack is a Down Syndrome boy")
Why... Identifies that person by their disability, 'is a Down Syndrome'
  Person who has ... (impairment) or person living with ...
  to Normal
Why... Implies that disabled people are not normal
  Non-disabled person
Why... Implies that disability lies within people's bodily functioning
  Non-disabled person
Retarded, Stupid, Slow, Backward
Why... Rude, hurtful words
  Learning difficulties, learning impairment
  People with learning disabilities
Disability is not the attribute of an individual (like an impairment), rather, disability is due to external factors
  People with learning difficulties, learning impairment
  Special needs
Why... Some people argue that there is nothing 'special' about being disabled!  Others argue that everyone is special!
Additional needs, different needs
  The deaf
Why... The deaf denotes a group
  deaf people
  Deaf and dumb
Deaf and dumb implies a deaf person may be stupid. Deaf people may have a voice but choose not to use it.
  Deaf, British Sign Language (BSL) User
Why... Negative image
  Mobility issues or impairment
  'Disabled Services'
Why... Implies that the service is not working properly.
  Services for disabled people
Mentally ill,  mental patient
Rude, hurtful words.
  Person with a mental health issues / impairment, Survivor / user of mental health services
  Crazy, maniac, insane
Why... Rude, hurtful words.
  Emotional impairment
Sometimes people and organisations use one term to classify people with a single impairment when another term, which expresses a range of impairments, is more appropriate.  Be aware of what you mean and what you are trying to say. 

Avoid some of the following words if you mean something else:
Why... There are a range of sight impairments
Visually impaired
Some people have limited sight but are not totally blind
Partially sighted
Why... There are different levels of deafness
  Hearing impaired
There are different methods of communication
Lip reader
Disability BackUp Language Code

Hackney's Disability BackUp embraces the social model of disability; which states that people are disabled by barriers within society, rather than being "victims" of their impairments or conditions.

We are campaigning for equal opportunities and for a change in attitude; one way of working towards more positive attitudes is to change the language we use.

Disability Backup has made a guide of empowering rather than passive/negative language. Whilst we respect individual's preferences on how they would want to be described, we feel public services should embrace and use positive language.

Hackney residents signing the Language Code

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Below is a list of terms that we would like to see used throughout society, we are asking you to sign up and support our effort to improve disability related language and thus improve people's perceptions of disability.
Click         to sign up to the Disability BackUp language Code.

Signing The Diability BackUp Language Code
Deputy Mayor Cllr Karen Alcock signing the Diability BackUp Language Code
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Click on any image to Enlarge