Appropriate and/or Correct Words and Phrases (No offense!)

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Photo credit: Words by Kristina Krause of Redzenradish Photography

√ Use … × Instead of…

Mental Health:

√ Died by suicide

× Committed/Completed/Successful suicide

√ Suicidal ideation with a plan; suicide without a plan

× Active suicidal ideation; Passive suicidal ideation  

√ Alcohol use disorder/Benzodiazepine use disorder

× Alcohol dependence or use continuous

√ Person with a mental health disability; person who has/person diagnosed with depression/schizophrenia, etc.; Terminology varies throughout countries – “insane” and “insanity” are generally legal terms and reported as such in news programming

× Negative references to mental health and well-being such as: lunatic, mental patient, mental disease, neurotic, psychotic, crazy

Physical Abilities:

√ Hard of hearing; deaf; deafened or late-deafened; Deaf (uses sign language)

× Hearing-impaired; blanket term “deaf” used at the wrong time 

√ Person who uses a wheelchair

√ Wheelchair user

× Wheelchair-bound  

√ Non-disabled

× Normal

√ Person living with vision loss

√ Person who is blind

√ Person who has a vision impairment

× Blind; visually impaired  

√ Person with a disability

√ Persons with disabilities

√ People with disabilities

√ Individuals with disabilities

× Disabled, invalid, handicapped, physically challenged (challenges and handicaps are environmental conditions) 

√  Person born with a disability

× Birth defect, deformity/deformed, congenital defect

√ Person with a disability or a person with a/who has a motion disability;

√ Person with (e.g., a spinal cord injury)

× Crippled or lame

Medical Conditions:

√ Has (e.g., asthma, cancer)

× Suffers from (e.g., asthma, cancer)   

√ Person/people/individual with (a) dementia

√ Person/people/individual living with dementia

√ Person/people living well with dementia

√ A person with Alzheimer’s disease

× Dementia sufferer; demented; senile or senile dementia; burden; victim; plague; epidemic; living death (e.g., dementia is a living death)

♥ Re: “dementia patient” – okay to use when talking about people in a hospital or actually using a care service).

√  Person who has (a particular disease or condition). Ex: A person who has had a stroke.

× Suffers from; was stricken with; is confined to; or is afflicted by/with. These terms patronize, pity, victimize or insult.

Other Terms:

√ Older people; older person; older adult

× Elderly; old people; old person

 ♥ Seniors or senior citizens is an acceptable term for most.

√ Accessible parking

× Handicapped parking

√ Accessible bathrooms

× Handicapped bathrooms

√ Person with an intellectual disability or persons with learning disabilities

× Mentally retarded; retarded; mentally defective; mentally challenged

 √ Indigenous Peoples, First Nations Peoples, Inuit Peoples, Metis Peoples, Aboriginal Peoples. Note: Always go with what they are calling themselves. 

Eskimo, Indian, Native are less-used terms and can be taken as derogatory.

√ Black (as an adjective); African-American/African-Americans (as nouns) (both are acceptable, but not necessarily interchangeable.) In Canada, Black or Black Canadian.

× N-word 

SIMPLE RULE: It’s people first. The person comes first.

The disability or disease comes second.

REGARDING IMAGES: Use images that reflect the whole person, rather than a fading face or wrinkled hands. This is especially important when the article is about living a positive life or overcoming challenges.

Angela G. Gentile

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Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide,” “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival,” “How to Edit an Anthology: Write or Compile a Collection that Sells,” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com

 

Search terms: politically correct, political correctness, terminology, writing, speaking, sensitive, appropriate, modern, neutral, acceptable

 

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