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Anti-Ableism Resources

This guide serves as an introduction to anti-ableism and accessibility resources.

what is ableist language?

Ableist language takes words that have historically, or are currently, used to describe people with disabilities, and uses them in a discriminatory or dismissive manner. Similar to racist language and sexist language, ableist language sneaks into our slang, metaphors, and phrases, and can be difficult to notice. Just like racist and sexist language, ableist language perpetuates negative stereotypes and reinforces the unconscious biases held by a culture: that disabled people are damaged, lesser, or incapable. Even if you do not hold that belief yourself, ableist language is harmful to those around you, and a common microaggression.

Challenge yourself to consider your language and avoid terms that stem from mental health diagnoses or medical diagnoses, especially when you are speaking casually and not discussing an actual condition.

    When you would have said this:                                Try an alternative:                           
Bipolar Back and forth, all over the place
OCD Particular, neat, meticulous
ADD, ADHD Unfocused, struggling, on the strugglebus
Retarded Dense, ignorant, ridiculous
Psycho, nutcase, insane Wild, ludicrous, bizarre, intense, bonkers
Lame Boring, bland, pathetic
Crippled, handicapped (to mean a limit on your ability) Limited, distracted, unable
Blind (to mean you've missed an obvious thing) Not paying attention, unfocused, uncaffeinated
Deaf (to mean you've not been paying attention) Head in the clouds, unfocused, distracted

These are not bad words you should avoid completely in your language, just words you might reconsider when you mean something other than a specific condition, diagnosis, or disability. Being intentional with your language to avoid harming those around you is never a bad thing, and over time, using these words less as slang helps to make our culture kinder and more welcoming for disabled people as a whole.