List of disability-related terms with negative connotations

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The following is a list of terms, used to describe disabilities or people with disabilities, which may carry negative connotations or be offensive to people with or without disabilities.

Some people consider it best to use person-first language, for example "a person with a disability" rather than "a disabled person."[1] However identity-first language, as in "autistic person" or "Deaf person", is preferred by many people and organizations.[2]

There is disagreement as to what causes harm.[citation needed] Views vary with geography and culture, over time, and among individuals. Many terms that some people view as harmful are not viewed as hurtful by others, and even where some people are hurt by certain terms, others may be hurt by the replacement of such terms with what they consider to be euphemisms (e.g., "differently abled" or "special needs"). Some people believe that terms should be avoided if they might hurt people; others hold the listener responsible for misinterpreting terms used without harmful intent. For example, crazy should be avoided in describing persons or their behaviors, but is less likely to cause offense if used as an intensifier as in "crazy speed".[3]

For some terms, the grammar structure of their use determine if they are harmful. The person-first stance advocates for saying "people with disabilities" instead of "the disabled" or "a person who is deaf" instead of "a deaf person".[4][5][6] However, some advocate against this, saying it reflects a medical model of disability whereas "disabled person" is more appropriate and reflects the social model of disability.[7] On the other hand, there is also a grammar structure called identity-first language that construes disability as a function of social and political experiences occurring within a world designed largely for nondisabled people.[8]