Media contact & language guide

For all media enquiries and interviews, please contact our CEO, Ross Joyce.

Email: or Mobile: 0402 842 040

We are always pleased to work with journalists and media outlets interested in AFDO and disability issues.  We can:

  • answer media enquiries about disability issues
  • provide a spokesperson for a media interview
  • draft feature articles or opinion pieces for publication.

For all non-media enquiries, please call (03) 9662 3324 or email

Language guidelines for reporting on disability

Your choice of language has an impact on the way people with disability are perceived in society.  Language is a powerful tool that can change stereotypes and attitudes. You can use it to make a positive difference for people with disability in our community.

We would appreciate it if you could use the following language preferences when writing about people with disability. We use person first language, emphasising the person, not the disability. People with disability are people first, who have families, work and participate in community activities.  We recommend using the following terms when talking about people with disability:

  • people with disability (children with disability, women with disability, etc)
  • lives with disability
  • has disability
Do use Instead of..
Person with [specify disability], for example:
  • People with disability
  • Person who uses a wheelchair or “wheelchair user”
  • …. has cerebral palsy
  • person with epilepsy
  • Person with psychosocial disability 
  • Person with schizophrenia / bipolar / depression
  • Person of short stature
  • Person with intellectual disability
  • Person with a brain injury
  • Person with Down syndrome
  • Person without a disability
  • Disabled people
  • wheelchair bound or confined to a wheelchair
  • Cerebral palsy sufferer 
  • An epileptic person
  • Mentally impaired people
  • Schizophrenic person / bipolar person
  • Midget or dwarf
  • mentally challenged / impaired
  • brain damaged / impaired
  • Down’s people
  • Normal

* When it comes to autism, autistic people prefer to be called autistic rather than “person with autism” because they see autism as an integral part of who they are, just as a person is Catholic or French.

How to talk about mental illness

We would prefer you to use the following terms

  • psychosocial disability
  • mental ill-health
  • mental illness

Psychosocial disability is an internationally recognised term under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), and relates to the ‘social consequences of disability’ – the effects on someone’s ability to participate fully in life as result of mental ill-health.  Psychosocial disability means that how you think, feel and interact with other people cause you to have barriers to (or stop you from) fully participating in life.

Please do not use the following terms

  • normal and/or abnormal
  • afflicted with…  or suffering with…  (this type of language indicates people who have disability are weak, a victim or someone to be pitied)
  • handicapped, retarded, spastic, mental, imbecile
  • special needs (our needs are not special, we have the same needs as everyone else). Link to video on #NotSpecialNeeds
  • birth defect/deformity
  • brave, special, or inspirational (implying that a person with disability is inspirational or special just for getting through the day is patronising and offensive)
  • deaf mute, deaf and dumb, dumb
  • physically challenged, differently abled
  • deficient, mentally deficient
  • slow or slow learner
  • mongoloid
  • confined to a wheelchair, wheelchair bound (wheelchairs are liberating and provide mobility to a person who cannot walk.  Please use “person who uses a wheelchair” or “wheelchair user”).
  • has the mental age of a three-year-old (or any age);  there is no such thing as a mental age
  • medical terms such as patient or invalid
  • psycho, mental or crazy
  • psychiatric problems, mental problems, psychiatric disability (we prefer the term “psychosocial disability” because it focuses on the social and economic barriers associated with a mental illness rather than focusing on the person as a problem.)


Further information available at: