Cookies on ons.gov.uk

Cookies are small files stored on your device when you visit a website. We use some essential cookies to make this website work.

We would like to set additional cookies to remember your settings and understand how you use the site. This helps us to improve our services.

You have accepted all additional cookies. You have rejected all additional cookies. You can change your cookie preferences at any time.

Skip to main content

People and places Disability

When referring to disability if talking about a group or an individual, use the descriptive term “disabled” before the name of the group or person.

The chart shows that older disabled people make up 15% of residents.

The survey asked every disabled respondent about their place of usual residence in 2021.

We write “disabled people” rather than “people with disabilities”. The second option can suggest that people are responsible for their disability when it may be the individual’s environment that disables them and not the impairment itself.

When writing about disability, do not use:

  • “the disabled” or “the handicapped” to refer to disabled people
  • negative terminology, such as “an invalid” or “suffering from”
  • the term “able-bodied” – instead, use “non-disabled”

Health conditions

When writing about health conditions, use the format “people with [health condition]”. Avoid using health conditions to refer to people, such as “an epileptic” or “epileptics”.

When describing assistive technology, ensure that your wording is precise and avoids negative assumptions. For example, you can refer to “using a screen reader” or “using a wheelchair”.

Exceptions

Disability is a nuanced topic, and there are some exceptions to this guidance. For example, to refer to their personal identity and community, some deaf people use “Deaf”, which is capitalised.

Similarly, neurodivergence comprises a range of different conditions and language preferences. Many neurodivergent people prefer language to highlight their identity, for example, “autistic person”.

You should consider the topic of your release and ensure that language is as accurate and inclusive as possible. Certain statistical releases may also need specific language, for example, to reflect survey options or responses.

Help improve this page

Let us know how we could improve this page, or share your user research findings. Discuss this page on GitHub (opens in a new tab)