How Can We Avoid Discriminatory Language?

To avoid discriminatory language, we should use people-first language. But what does that mean?

According to Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN), people-first language “emphasizes the individuality, equality and dignity of people with disabilities. Rather than defining people primarily by their disability, people-first language conveys respect by emphasizing the fact that people with disabilities are first and foremost just that—people.”

Here are some examples

Use                                                  Instead of
person of colour                            coloured
people with a disability                the disabled
homeless people                            the homeless
people who are blind                     the blind
person who is unable to speak   dumb, mute
people who are deaf                      the deaf
person who is in recovery
from a substance abuse
disorder                                             addict
transgender people                        transgenders
older people                                     the elderly
spouse, partner                               husband, wife

Do you have any to add to my list?


  1. Good opportunity to think about several communities or situations

    • Exactly, Rita. Thank you for commenting!


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Foto Christine Sparks

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