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Global, guidance

Starting a conversation about the global language of disability 

Disability Language,
Global Language Guide,
Language Of Disability

By Bela Gor, Head of Legal and Content


For many businesses, the prospect of talking about disability can be daunting. What if they “get it wrong”, and cause offence? How can they keep up with the ever-changing nature of language? Add to this the pressures of communicating with different cultures globally, and many may choose not to address the topic at all. 

This is why we have created Lost in translation: a global guide to the language of disability, sponsored by HSBC. While we recognise the fears and challenges around the language of disability, building an inclusive environment for your disabled employees and customers starts with conversations, both within your organisation and on a global level. Our new resource provides the guidance you need to build best practice and find a common narrative with your disabled stakeholders.  

Inside the guide 

The guide draws on existing practice as well as new research conducted amongst some of our global Members and Partners.  We offer advice on: 

  • starting conversations about disability and language at a global level 
  • using appropriate disability-related language in different situations and locations, away from a one-size fits all model 
  • creating ‘house styles’ for your unique circumstances 
  • developing training, behaviours, values, policies and procedures rooted in inclusive language
  • keeping up with the continual evolution of language around disability 
  • what to do when language offends 

Some of the topics covered include: 

  • current terminology and the debates around some these terms 
  • the impact of culture, geography and different disability models 
  • the fears associated with language and how it can go wrong 
  • the intention and impact of language. 

“We hope our guide will point businesses in the right direction”, says Business Disability Forum CEO, Diane Lightfoot, “It doesn’t set out to give a definitive answer but that is the point. The answers need come from internal discussion with your customers and employees. The important thing is to be willing to start that conversation.” 

Find out more

Access Lost in translation: a global guide to the language of disability

For more insights on disability and language, read our Inclusive Communication Toolkit.  

Our Global Taskforce brings together our Members and Partners that want to have a positive impact on the lives of disabled candidates, employees and customers, wherever they are in the world. 

Disability Language,
Global Language Guide,
Language Of Disability

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