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Five men and women of varying age and race sit in low couches at a cafe, the woman nearest to the camera uses a wheelchair. They're all drinking coffee and focused on an older man who leans forward, in the middle of sharing a story with the group.

Your guide to inclusive language

Language is an incredibly powerful tool for communication, but it can be challenging to ensure that our words are inclusive and appropriate, especially when discussing people with disabilities. Here are some tips to help you communicate inclusively.

25/01/23 News

Recognise that people with disabilities are individuals.

Person-first language emphasises the person rather than their disability. Using the disability as the primary descriptor (e.g., "autistic person") focuses solely on the disability. By prioritising the person first, we acknowledge that the disability does not define them. Although it may seem grammatically incorrect, it is recommended to use terms like "person with a disability" or "people with disabilities." This terminology provides a broad and inclusive approach since we cannot be aware of everyone's specific situation.

Avoid using terms like "autistic person" or "disabled person."

Instead, use terms like "person with autism" or "person with a disability."

Understand that people with disabilities are not victims

Disability is a part of someone's identity and should not be viewed as something to pity or make them feel like victims.

Avoid using terms like "suffers from depression" or "depression sufferer."

Instead, use terms like "John has depression" or "John experiences depression."

Realise that people with disabilities are not automatically courageous.

Having a disability does not imply bravery or courage unless the person has accomplished something exceptional. If someone is simply living their life, it is not necessary to praise them.

Avoid using terms like "brave," "courageous," or "inspiring" unless they are appropriate.

People with disability are not physically challenged

Remember that using terms like "physically challenged" to describe someone who uses a wheelchair can be offensive. As People with Disability Australia explains, a wheelchair enables a person to navigate and participate in society, making it liberating rather than confining.

Avoid using terms like "physically challenged" or "differently abled."

Instead, use the term "wheelchair user."

When in doubt, refer to a person with a disability by their name.

We are an Employment Services Provider for People with Disabilities

Workskil Australia is a provider of Disability Employment Services that support individuals with disabilities in their employment journey.


'Inclusive Language' (2018). Australian Network on Disability.

'How to talk about disability' (2018). People with Disability Australia.

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