alternatives for ableist language

Abelist assumptions and comments are not only an issue in outdated language in hymns and Bible translations; they are pervasive in even the most common of idioms and remarks. Describing circumstances as "crazy," fear as "paralyzing," or a politician as "turning a blind eye" to an issue can all strike a chord with someone who suffers from mental illness, mobility issues or blindness. What follows are a series of suggestions for alternatives to those abelist idioms. These suggestions were compiled generously by Hannah Johnsrud, and are shared here with her consent.

in everyday language

Current Language:

"Blind to…”

“Turn a blind eye to…”

“Blinded by (hate/rage/prejudice)”

“Our eyes were opened to…”

"Open your eyes..."


“Ignorant of”

“Turning their back on”

“Overcome by prejudice”

“Unaware of”

"Pay attention"

Current Language:

“Crippled by”

“Paralyzed by”


“Crippled by”

“Paralyzed by”

“Frozen by”

“Stopped by”

“Completely stuck”

Current Language:

“Deaf to…”

“Fell on deaf ears…”

“Our ears were opened to…”


“willfully or deliberately ignorant”

“turned their back on”

“refused to listen” / “feigned ignorance” / "Never noticed..."

"We realized..."

Current Language:








"mind blowing"


"unheard of"

Current Language:






Current Language:



Always use "person first" language, or ASK if you are unsure!

"Person with a disability”

"Differently abled"

Regarding things or places that can are accessible to persons with disabilities, do not call the parking space (for example) "handicapped," but rather "Accessible."