Letter to Singapore’s press: Hope for increased usage of disability-friendly terms in publications

The Disabled People’s Association of Singapore had a column “What it should have been in 2015 which ran 6 articles. Named after the corrections section traditionally found in newspapers, it compiled all instances of inappropriate words/terms used to describe people with disabilities that appeared in print.

I gave it a read, learnt the appropriate phrases to describe individuals with disabilities, and found some disability terms that could have been phrased better as I looked through the Straits Times’ Articles.This letter is for the general press in Singapore. I just happened to use Straits Times’ articles as relevant examples.

Tap-in to use toilet for the disabled (Aug 28 2015)

Rules on parking labels for disabled set to be tightened (Sept 28 2015)

Group helps shed light on the visually-impaired (Oct 6, 2015)

Asean Para Games: Disabled to get more facilities (Dec 3 2015)

Disabled get their own one-stop village (Dec 3 2015)

Attending to visually impaired shoppers with heart and sole (Dec 3 2015)

Firm helps the disabled to set up businesses  (Dec 11 2015)

MP tests disabled-friendly temporary Woodlands Bus Interchange – in a wheelchair (Feb 22 2016)

Over $33m in aid given to disabled pioneers (1 March 2016)

Women must now provide for ill, disabled husbands or ex-husbands (1 March 2016)

Budget 2016: Disabled artist made money from paintings, thanks to A Packet Of Rice volunteers  (25 May 2016)

Some disability-friendly terms I hope to share with readers and the media outlets:

“People/individuals with disabilities”, instead of “disabled people/the disabled”.

“wheelchair/disability-friendly”, instead of “disabled-friendly”

“Shoppers with visually disability” instead of “visually-impaired”.

“Individuals without disabilities” instead of “abled-bodied users”

“..became non-ambulant after the surgery” instead of “..became wheelchair bound after the surgery”

“wheelchair-users” instead of “handicapped/wheelchair bound”

“Disability-friendly toilets” instead of “Handicapped toilets”

“..has Cerebral Palsy” instead of “..suffers from Cerebral Palsy”


I even remember during the recent ASEAN ParaGame last year, there was a related video shown on channel 5 which did not use disability-friendly terms. I was quite surprised because I thought there would be more emphasis on disability-friendly terms, especially since ASEAN ParaGames hopes to positively promote the abilities and inclusiveness of individuals with disabilities.


I hope local media outlets can use more disability-friendly terms, so that the public can be inculcated likewise to learn, and follow suit. Like the aims of  The Purple Parade, let’s play our part to create a more inclusive Singapore by treating everyone with equal respect, and viewing individuals with disabilities as people first, rather than focusing on their condition or what they cannot do 🙂

For a comprehensive list of disability websites in Singapore, click HERE

To check out the Facebook page of The Disabled People’s Association of Singapore

To check out the Facebook page of The Purple Parade


Click HERE if you want to check out our Facebook page for new updates 🙂

If you are a news source that wishes to repost our article, please credit it back to “Offbeat Perspectives” with a link to the original article and Offbeat Perspectives Facebook page. If not, we will kindly ask you to take down your post 🙂

Written by: Cass

Picture: No clear data on disability situation in Singapore

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