Wordwatch Towers

A plain language guide to punctuation, grammar and writing well.

Posts Tagged ‘wheelchair user


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This post is dedicated to those people who land on this blog after googling for information about how to describe people who use wheelchairs.

Avoid describing people who use a wheelchair as ‘wheelchair-bound’ or ‘in a wheelchair’ or ‘confined to a wheelchair’. Prefer ‘wheelchair user’, or phrases such as ‘she uses a wheelchair’.

Don’t refer to someone who is not a wheelchair user as ‘able-bodied’. If you need to differentiate in this way, use the term ‘non-disabled’. This is because ‘able-bodied’ can imply that someone who uses a wheelchair is not able.

Don’t forget that there’s no need to mention the fact that someone is a wheelchair user if it’s not relevant.

Politically correct writing and speaking

Read more on this at The Limit-Less Campaign.

From the Guardian:

I’m a wheelchair user. I’m not wheelchair-bound, or confined to my wheelchair. My disability has not made me courageous or admirable, or deserving of a pat on the head just because you can reach it. I hate having my head patted.

I have total feeling in all limbs, so when you said, “You probably didn’t feel that”, rather than apologising for kicking me, you were wrong. I don’t have strong shoulders from pushing a wheelchair: my shoulders are prematurely weakening for that very reason.

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