Survey backs up how lazy and offensive language makes disabled people feel
A disability charity says terms such as able bodied and wheelchair-bound should never be used as society and language has evolved.
A survey conducted by Leonard Cheshire showed 73% of disabled Britons believe that others need more help to understand what words cause offence.
The government advises that people avoid “passive, victim” nouns such as epileptic or diabetic, instead calling someone a person with epilepsy or diabetes.
“We found that 46% of all disabled Brits feel regularly ‘ignored’ or ‘overlooked’ by non-disabled people due to widespread use of inappropriate or demeaning language,” a Leonard Cheshire spokesman said.
The survey of 2,400 people found that 23% had suffered defamatory language from strangers.
“More than one in 10, a total of 12%, of the disabled people we asked said they were having to correct the misuse of language around disabilities a staggering four to six days each week.”
Leonard Cheshire has partnered with the rapper Kray-Z Legz, who was born with spina bifida, to re-educate the public.
He said: “Language is such a powerful thing and it can be very degrading. I have personally been bullied, stared at and spoken to like a child, I can’t count the times somebody has used offensive words to describe me, even though they are being genuinely curious and friendly.”
Ruth Owen, chief executive of Leonard Cheshire, said: “Words matter. While these statistics are disappointing, they are a true reflection of what disabled people face on a daily basis.
“Sadly, sometimes language is explicitly used to cause offence. However, in many cases inappropriate words are used unintentionally by non-disabled people for sheer lack of knowledge.”