A subject that can often be overlooked is the language businesses use when dealing with a disabled person. On occasions, employees may inadvertently and unintentionally, cause offence by their choice of words when talking about disability. The language we use can reinforce negative stereotypes, which can be harmful and disrespectful.
As a company, The Accessible Guide adopts the Social Model of Disability which we believe creates and inclusive and equal society. It is important to respect individual choices and we recognize that some disabled people may prefer person first language and will use the term person with disability.
There are phrases that non-disabled people use when referring to a disabled person, phrases such as ‘different abled’ or ‘physically challenged’ can be perceived as patronising and should be avoided.
For businesses that want to be inclusive and welcoming to disabled people, using appropriate language is essential. It goes without saying that employees and businesses will never intentionally cause offence, this is why language is so important.
The Accessible Guide was founded and is managed by disabled people with lived experiences of the many phrases that are still used. When using inappropriate language, it is often because the individual doesn’t like using words like disabled, when in fact, there is nothing wrong with the phrase disabled person. The other phrases used are likely to cause offence.
It is easy to state that language is just words, and whilst this may be technically correct, it can shape the perception of disabled people and societal attitudes. In modern society, young people are far more exposed to disability than they were thirty years ago and attitudes are much more positive than they have been. It is still vital though to use appropriate language.
Businesses that are inclusive and welcoming to disabled people can tap into the Purple Pound, which is the combined spending power of disabled households in the United Kingdom. It makes sense to be inclusive, it’s not just the correct thing to do, it can also increase revenue.
We have created a Language & Disability document which can be downloaded here.
As an organisation The Accessible Guide is here to support businesses to remain and become more inclusive and welcoming to disabled people. If you have any concerns, we’re just a call or email away.