√ Use … × Instead of…
√ 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
√ 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
√ 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
√ 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.
√ 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.
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
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. She is creator and administrator of many Facebook communities including “Aging Well for Women” and “Living Well With and After Cancer” For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com
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