Disabled, handicapped or invalid??

This is a discussion thread · 10 replies
1 2
Hi everybody,

Could anyone explain the main differences between these three words?
If you want to say that someone is physically handicapped... wouldn´t that be a disabled person???

Gracias!
Junior Member51
These are all ways of describing the same sort of thing but from different eras really. Invalid could also apply to someone who was convalescing from a long illness.
the following applies to Britain and probably most other countries.
The only one that is genererally acceptable today is disabled. It is better to say 'a person with a disability' rather than a disabled person, as people with disabilities do not like, understandably, being defined by their disability rather than any thing else about them. people with disabilities got very 'political' about this a decade or so ago (well, longer than that but it took a while for society to take them seriously) and will be offended at being called 'handicapped'. Many people with disabilities do not consider themselves handicapped by their disability.

sorry for the PC lecture but it is always best to attempt to avoid offending anyone.
Veteran Member11,782
Proficient Speaker: Users in this role are known to maintain an excellent grasp of the English language. You can only be promoted to this role by the Englishforums team.Retired Moderator: A moderator who has retired.
It´s allright, nona the brit, that´s really what I was looking for...

It´s important to use the language accurately and also not offending people by the way we say things...

Do you think, then, it will be allright if a doctor is explaining to a pacient the following (he´s had an accident and probably he won´t be able to walk anymore):

DOCTOR: (...) but one of your possibilities is that you may be leg disabled or you´ll be disabled on both legs?

It sounds to me very odd, suggestions welcome!

thanks a lot

Reme
Hello!

In North American it is not politically correct nor respectful to say handicapped, invalid or disabled anymore. We refer to people with physical challenges. The reason for this is that a person born with a 'disability' does not think of it as such: their's is a normal way of being, not abnormal for them. It is also not proper to say that someone is 'suffering' from a disability for the very same reason. An 'acquired disability' might be okay to say... just might be, however it is still better to say 'facing some physical challenges.'

Melodie
New Member35
The proper way to say this is:

".. one of the possibilities is that you may not be able to use one of your legs, or both."

Melodie in Canada
Most of us are facing different physical challenges. How does one solve problems if one cannot refer to them by name?
Regular Member664
Teachers: Users in this role are certified teachers. This may include DELTA, CELTA, TESOL, TEFL qualified professionals. Email a scan of your qualification to an admin, if you wish to be considered.
I know is a tricky subject, but I didn´t know they were almost taboo words...

As David says, things must be named by their own name (that is the main purpouse of words Emotion: rolleyes ) but the least I want is to offend a person just for the sake of using a word instead of another which may sound more "polite"...

Anyway, thanks for all your views and recommendations. I´ll bear them in mind.

Regards.
Anonymous:
Handicap is a(n) historical derivitive from 'Cap in Hand'. This conjurors up images of poverty, hopelessness and despair.

Invalid perhaps when something has run out. To label a person as such, suggests a time limit?

Could someone help me with the history of disabled, in particular the last letter. To disable something suggests a present happening, but if it is disabled it seems long-term or even terminal.
RemeHi everybody,

Could anyone explain the main differences between these three words?
If you want to say that someone is physically handicapped... wouldn´t that be a disabled person???
Gracias!
Anonymous:
That is a misconception. Handicap comes from a bartering game in the 1500's where people would barter goods and a 3rd party referee would decide the monetary value of the items in trade. Loose change would be exchanged as part of the system and this loose change was tossed into a cap placed on the ground. It was called Hand in Cap, later Hand i'Cap, finally, handicap. Handicapping was used by horse racers as a method to even out the odds, just as in the original barter game, for many years before the word came to refer to physical/mental challenges. The term "handicap" was later broadened to include disabilities or limitations alone rather than the original intent of considering limitations and then leveling the playing field.
Show more
Live chat
Registered users can join here