Words and images used to describe people with disabilities can create a clear-cut constructive image or a tactless depiction that increases the use of humiliating phrases. Often people use terms they feel are perfectly acceptable without realizing the impact they might have on someone with a disability. For example, words to avoid include: abnormal, invalid, misshapen, spaz, disfigured, lame, according to June Isaacson Kailes, a disability policy consultant. Kailes has created some guidelines regarding acceptable and unacceptable terms to use when describing people with disabilities:
Acceptable: He has spina bifida.
Unacceptable: He was afflicted with spina bifida.
Acceptable: She has cerebral palsy.
Unacceptable: She is cerebral palsied, spastic.
Acceptable: A person who uses a wheelchair.
Unacceptable: A person who is wheelchair bound.
Acceptable: She has a disability.
Unacceptable: She is crippled.
Acceptable: A person with a developmental disability or intellectual disability.
Unacceptable: Retard, feebleminded, idiot.
Acceptable: A person who has a speech disability.