When referring to disability if talking about a group or an individual, use the descriptive term “disabled” before the name of the group or person.

The chart shows that older disabled people make up 15% of residents.

The survey asked every disabled respondent about their place of usual residence in 2021.

We write “disabled people” rather than “people with disabilities”. The second option can suggest that people are responsible for their disability when it may be the individual’s environment that disables them and not the impairment itself.

When writing about disability, do not use:

  • “the disabled” or “the handicapped” to refer to disabled people
  • negative terminology, such as “an invalid” or “suffering from”
  • the term “able-bodied” – instead, use “non-disabled”

Health conditions

When writing about health conditions, use the format “people with [health condition]”. Avoid using health conditions to refer to people, such as “an epileptic” or “epileptics”.

When describing assistive technology, ensure that your wording is precise and avoids negative assumptions. For example, you can refer to “using a screen reader” or “using a wheelchair”.


Disability is a nuanced topic, and there are some exceptions to this guidance. For example, to refer to their personal identity and community, some deaf people use “Deaf”, which is capitalised.

Similarly, neurodivergence comprises a range of different conditions and language preferences. Many neurodivergent people prefer language to highlight their identity, for example “autistic person”.

You should consider the topic of your release and ensure that language is as accurate and inclusive as possible. Certain statistical releases may also need specific language, for example to reflect survey options or responses.

If you would like any further guidance when writing about disability, please contact content.design@ons.gov.uk for guidance.