Language Guide


Welcome to Foundations’ inclusive language guide.

At Foundations, we’re committed to fostering an environment where everyone feels valued and understood.

The guide is built upon the Social Model of Disability, to reflect our dedication to diversity and inclusivity. We believe that language plays a powerful role in shaping attitudes and perceptions, and by embracing inclusive language in our communications, we can create a more welcoming and supportive community for all.

We encourage you to explore the guide and integrate its principles into your communications. Together, we can build a community where everyone feels heard, valued, and respected.



The word ‘accessible’ is used at Foundations to describe services, places, and products that provide disabled people the same access as everyone else. For example, ‘accessible kitchen’ and ‘accessible information’. 

Affected by 

We use the term ‘affected by’ instead of ‘suffers from’, or ‘is a victim of’. ‘Affected by’ does not imply negativity.

Alzheimer’s disease/Alzheimer’s 

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. Both terms are used at Foundations, though we usually use ‘Alzheimer’s’. ‘Alzheimer’s’ is always capitalised with an apostrophe as shown. 

Assistive technology  

We use the term ‘assistive technology’  to describe devices or systems that help a person to do things in everyday life. The term ‘assistive technology’ is not capitalised and is used to group technology such as mobility aids, computer software, and adaptive switches.

Asylum seeker(s) 

We use the term ‘asylum seeker’ to describe a person seeking asylum. ‘Asylum seeker’ is not to be confused with the terms ‘migrant’ or ‘refugee’.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)  

We always write the full term as it appears first, then abbreviate to ADHD after that. 


We use the term ‘autism’, for example, ‘person with autism’ though we recognise that some people may refer to themselves as ‘autistic’. 

Behaviours of concern  

We use the term ‘behaviours of concern’ instead of ‘challenging behaviours’ or ‘behaviours that challenge’ to describe individuals affected by behaviours that raise concern amongst caregivers and healthcare professionals. 

Bipolar disorder 

We use the term ‘bipolar disorder’ should be written in lowercase except when placed at the beginning of a sentence or in a title. 

Black person/Black people 

We use the correct capitalised term, ‘Black person/Black people.’ In the context of ethnicity, ‘Black’ should always be capitalised.  


We use the term ‘blind’ is used to describe a person who is affected by blindness. 

British Sign Language (BSL) 

We write the full capitalised term as it appears first, ‘British Sign Language’ then abbreviate to BSL after that. 

Cerebral Palsy (CP) 

We write the full capitalised term as it appears first, ‘Cerebral Palsy’ then abbreviate to CP after that. 


We use the term ‘chronic’ to describe a long-term condition. For example, ‘chronic illness’. 


Some people refer to themselves as ‘Deaf’ with a capital D.  


We use the term a ‘person with diabetes’ but recognise that some people refer to themselves as ‘diabetic’.  

Disabled person/disabled people 

We use the term ‘disabled person’ or ‘disabled people’. 


We do not use the word ‘disorder’, unless referring to a medical term as it carries a negative connotation. 

Displaced person/displaced people 

We use the term ‘displaced person’ or ‘displaced people’ to refer to those who have fled their homes due to conflict, persecution, natural disasters, violence, or famine.  


We use the term ‘epilepsy’ in lowercase. 


We use the term ‘ethnicity in lowercase’, which is not to be confused with ‘race’. Ethnicity refers to social and cultural factors in the context of a person’s identity. 

Useful Resources


Inclusive language: words to use and avoid when writing about disability – Gov.uk

Adaptations for Children and Young People With Behaviours of Concern This report sets out to share the benefits that adaptations can bring to families. Foundations want to see recognition of the role of using RRO flexibilities for children with complex needs and the cost-benefit of large adaptations compared to the alternative – particularly in the wider system.

Dealing With Unsafe Housing: The right home environment is essential to health and well-being and affects many health factors. Read our guidance on dealing with unsafe housing.



Homeless person/homeless people 

We use the term(s) ‘homeless person’ or ‘homeless people’ and do not use the term ‘the homeless’.


We use the term ‘immigrant’ in lowercase.


We use the term ‘impairment’ in lowercase. 

Shelter Policy and Research Library: Shelter is the largest homelessness charity in the U.K., providing help and advice to homeless people.

Specialist Immigration Advice: Citizen’s Advice provides free specialist advice to anybody who needs help with an immigration problem.



Learning difficulty  

We use the term ‘learning difficulty’ to refer to ADHD, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, and dyslexia. 

Learning disability  

We use the term ‘learning disability’ when talking about a person affected by a reduced learning capability.  

Mental health  

We use the term ‘mental health’ in lowercase when talking about a person affected by a mental health condition or the wider topic. 


We use the term ‘migrant’ in lowercase to describe a person who has moved from their place of residence to another, whether in the same country or across borders. 

Minority Ethnic 

We use the term ‘minority ethnic’ not ‘ethnic minority’ to describe an ethnicity being a minority in certain contexts rather than the ethnicity itself being a minority. 

Motor Neurone Disease (MND) 

We write the full capitalised term as it appears first, ‘Motor Neurone Disease’ then abbreviate to MND after that.

Mobility aid  

We use the term ‘mobility aid’ to describe an aid to help a person move freely.  

Mobility impaired 

We use the term ‘mobility impaired’ to describe a person affected by restricted mobility. 


We use the term ‘neurodivergent’ to describe a person affected by ADHD, dyslexia and mental health conditions. 

Older people  

We use the term ‘older people’ instead of ‘elderly’. 

Parkinson’s disease  

We use the term ‘Parkinson’s disease’ with a capital ‘P’ and apostrophe.  

A-Z Mental Health: Mind’s A-Z directory provides more information on mental health terminology.




We use specific and accurate terms to describe a person’s race. For example, ‘Asian’ or ‘Black’ rather than BAME.  


We use the term ‘refugee’ to describe a person who has fled war, conflict, persecution, or violence by crossing an international border.  


We avoid using the term ‘suffers’ to describe a person affected by a condition as this implies negativity. 


We would use the correct term, ‘died by suicide’, not ‘committed suicide’ as suicide is no longer classified as a crime. 

Tourette’s syndrome  

We use the term ‘Tourette’s syndrome’ not ‘Tourette’s’ and always capitalise the ‘T’. We recognise that a person may say that they have ‘Tourette’s’ 



We avoid using the word ‘vulnerable’ as this carries a negative connotation. Instead, we use direct descriptors to describe a person or group. For example, ‘older people’. 

Wheelchair user(s) 

We use the term ‘wheelchair user(s)’ to refer to a person or people who use a wheelchair for mobility. 

Contact Us

Our language guide is a permanent ‘live’ resource that will evolve to reflect new terminology as it emerges and any societal developments. If you have any suggestions to add to our guide, we welcome them. Contact us via our contact form and a team member will be in touch.