Respectful use of language

Consider inclusive terminology:

Go beyond using words that create barriers and stigma.  Language can unintentionally convey negative attitudes and stereotypes.  Treat everyone in your organization the same way – with respect.

The translation trap:

Also, what is acceptable in one language may not be acceptable in another. Therefore, translations can be challenging.

You will see the term “people with disabilities” used on our English websites. This is the respectful expression to use when communicating in English. The direct translation of the phrase to French is “personnes ayant des incapacités” and is appropriate to use when communicating in French.

Other acceptable expressions in French include “personnes ayant des déficiences” and “personnes handicapées”. However, the last phrase appears to be more prevalent and is used on Canadian federal and provincial government websites. We make use of all three terms on our French site.

Be careful:

It is very important to note that a direct translation to English of “personnes ayant des déficiences” and “personnes handicapées” can be offensive to English-speaking people with disabilities. Therefore, their respective direct translations, “persons with impairments” (or impaired persons) and “persons with handicaps” (or handicapped persons), should be avoided.

Be forgiving:

Speaking in a non-native language is not always easy, especially when dealing with new ideas and concepts. In these instances, there can be an automatic tendency to use “translated” expressions from one’s mother tongue, be it from French or any other language. This can lead to the use of phrases that are inappropriate in the English language as the ones listed above. Understand that for most, the use of offensive terms is likely to be unintentional. Be sensitive to these challenges and support the speaker by respectfully and patiently guiding them toward more appropriate language. Remember that it takes courage for people to speak in their non-native language and that they are doing so to best accommodate successful interactions with you.