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Pet products with a conscience – think workability, not disability!

Words Matter Part 2

As part of our parent company Independence Matters CIC, Norfolk Industries has been provided with a document to be mindful about the impact of the words that we use when at work. Part of this document is the subject of Person-Centred Language.

Whilst not everyone will agree on what exactly is acceptable or unacceptable when considering the correct terms and phrases to use on an individual basis, there are however some general language guidelines that we need to be aware of.

If you are unsure about what words and phrases to use, you should ask the person you are talking to and find out which terms they are comfortable with, as different individuals may identify with certain things.

Below, you will find words and phrases that we may still use relating to disabilities which are now deemed unacceptable, along with some alternatives that we should be using instead.


Handicapped, the handicapped – Negative terms to describe someone with a disability.

Think about what this means: Outdated terminology. Reinforces a negative view of disability. Perceives disabled people as powerless. De-humanising.

We prefer to say: A person with a disability


Wheelchair bound, confined to a wheelchair, in a wheelchair – Outdated terms to describe someone who uses a wheelchair.

This implies the person is restrained or restricted. Doesn’t respect people as active individuals with control. Describes people only in relation to the equipment.

We prefer to:

  • Say, “X uses a wheelchair”
  • Use the term, “Wheelchair user” or “someone who uses a wheelchair”
  • Say, “We’re going out”

Most disabled people would be comfortable with the words used to describe daily living, for example, people who use wheelchairs “go for walks” and people with visual impairments may or may not be pleased “to see you”. A disability may just mean that some things are done in a different way.