Press Room

Welcome to the ODO Press Room

Open Doors Organization has served as a media resource on disability-related issues since its founding in 2000, providing countless referrals, background research and interviews for print media and television news. If you need assistance, please feel free to contact the following ODO staff members:

Eric Lipp, Executive Director


Laurel Van Horn, Director of Programs
212-260-6103 or 773-818-7838 (cell)

Disability Language Guidelines

Members of the media who are new to the topic of disability may be unaware that certain words and phrases in common use are considered disrespectful by people with disabilities. We provide the following basic language guidelines to help journalists and reporters avoid inadvertently offending their readers and listeners.

People-First Language and Other Appropriate Terminology

  • Do not refer to a person’s disability unless it is relevant.
  • Most people with disabilities prefer “People First” terminology such as person who is blind or people with disabilities since this acknowledges them as people first rather than their disability.
  • Avoid referring to groups of people by their condition or disability such as the blind or the deaf“.
  • Avoid sensational descriptive words when referring to a person’s disability such as suffers from, is a victim of, or is afflicted with. Instead say
  • Use disabled, disability or accessible rather than handicapped.
  • Avoid condescending euphemisms such as differently abled, physically challenged, mentally different or handicapable.”
  • Avoid portraying people with disabilities as overly courageous, brave or special. This implies that it is unusual for people with disabilities to be independent or competent.
  • Never say anything that you would not want said to or about yourself.
Do Say Don’t Say
person with/who has a disability, people with disabilities/functional limitations the disabled, handicapped, physically challenged, differently abled
non-disabled, able-bodied normal, healthy
uses wheelchair, uses assistive device, i.e., wheelchair, crutches, walker, etc. wheelchair bound, confined to a wheelchair
birth injury, congenital disability birth defect, birth affliction, deformity
person with a physical disability crippled, lame, deformed, invalid, gimp
person who is deaf/hard of hearing the deaf, hearing impaired, deaf mute, deaf and dumb
has a speech disability, unable to speak has a speech defect, dumb
person who is blind/has low vision the blind, blind people, visually impaired
person with an intellectual/cognitive/developmental disability stupid, re-tard, retarded, slow, mentally defective, subnormal, mentally challenged
person with epilepsy/seizure disorder epileptic, has fits, spastic
person with a psychiatric/mental health disability crazy, nuts, loony
person of short stature, little person, dwarf midget