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Non-discriminatory language

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Non-discriminatory language - Disability

There are three main ways to avoid discriminating in your writing against people who are disabled.

Include a consideration of disabled people

Could the topic you are writing about have issues for disabled people (e.g. many topics have issues for the disabled, such as transport, catering, sport, social care)?

If so, perhaps you could include considerations about such issues.

Describing disabled people

There are terms to describe disabled people which are acceptable and ones which are seen as insulting.

Check (e.g. with a relevant charity; with disabled people) what terms to use.

The terms tend to change over the years. What is not acceptable now, may once have been so.

Generally acceptable
hearing impaired
sight impaired

Completely unacceptable

Allow for disabled readers

This may not apply to academic work (e.g. essays, reports) to be read only by your tutor.

However, if your written work is for a wider audience (e.g. a brochure; a web page; a computer conference), you could consider how disabled people might read it or use it.

Check with your tutor if this is appropriate (your tutor may want you to focus on other things).

The Disability Discrimination Act (2001) says that all learning resources must be accessible by people with disabilities.

If you are writing a web page for general use:
  • people with dyslexia find it easier to read short words than long ones
  • consider how a sight impaired person would use the site (but, check with your tutor - they may want you to focus on other things!).

© Learning & Teaching Institute, Sheffield Hallam University 2004