Are you an 'AB' or a 'PWD'?: A Paralympic glossary

Over the next two weeks, you will hear more words bandied about to describe disabled people than perhaps ever before. But how do you separate the acceptable from the downright offensive?

'Disabled'

Perhaps the most common. Some prefer "person with a disability", or "PWD", to ensure the individual is emphasised not the disability. Paralympic organisers opt for "people with an impairment". Another is "differently abled".

'Handicapped'

An oldie, and not a goodie. Stems from "hand in cap", a game in which players acccepted or rejected an object's valuation by bringing their hands, full or empty, out of a cap of money. Now confined to use as a technical term in sports such as horse-racing and golf.

'Crip'

You're unlikely to hear "cripple" on Channel 4, any time soon. Yet, just as "queer" has been appropriated by some gay activists, "crip" is used by some disabled people as a term of political empowerment.

'AB'

A humorous term disabled people might use to turn the tables on the "able-bodied". You might say: "Wow, this bar is full of ABs."

'Superhuman'

Channel 4 asks us to "meet the superhumans" in its emotive TV Paralympics promotion. While this might capture the high level of physicality, stamina and strength displayed by the Paralympic athletes, some believe this sort of approach aggressively champions the exclusivity of the event.

(With thanks to Louise Hickman, disability consultant)

Sarah Morrison

All-time greats

Trischa Zorn, US

Swimming

Active 1980-2004

Medals 32 Gold, 9 Silver and 5 Bronze

The Californian, blind since birth, is the most decorated Paralympian. Born in 1964, she won seven golds at her first Games, and came out of retirement for Athens 2004 to win bronze (100m backstroke).

Franz Nietlispach, Switzerland

Athletics

Active 1976-2008

Medals 14G, 6S, 1B

Nietlispach became paraplegic in 1973, aged 15, after falling from a tree. A wheelchair athlete and handcyclist, he has taken gold in events from the 100m to the marathon. .

Jonas Jacobsson, Sweden

Shooting

Active 1980-present

Medals 16G, 1S, 8B

At his first Games, in 1980, wheelchair-user Jacobsson, then 15, won silver and bronze. Since, the rifle-man has won 17 World and 22 European championships. In 2004, he set three world records on his way to three golds. He is Sweden's standard-bearer.

Esther Vergeer, The Netherlands

Wheelchair tennis

Active 2000-present

Medals 5G 1S

Vergeer, who became paraplegic aged eight after spinal surgery, has been world No 1 since 1999. She has not been beaten in singles since January 2003 (465 matches).

Christopher Scott, Australia

Cycling

Active 1988-2008

Medals 6G, 2S, 2B

Born with cerebral palsy in 1968, Scott competed in seven-a-side football (1988), athletics (1992), and won golds in 1996 and 2000 in road cycling before taking to track, winning team sprint and individual pursuit in 2004 and again in 2008.

Source: International Paralympic Committee

Robert Epstein

Don't panic!

A little bewildered by the prospect of all those disabled people leaping out? Peter Mitchell, who performs in I'm Spazticus, a Channel 4 sketch show, offers some words to the wise...

Does that elite-level athlete look like a victim to you?

I was a professional footballer and I broke my back in a car crash. Since then I have trained with the GB wheelchair basketball team. These are serious athletes. The Games will be an opportunity to show that disabled people aren't victims. If I go into a shop, or get into my car, someone always says, 'Oh, I'll help you'. Whenever I fall out of my chair, it always seems to be in front of an elderly woman who screams in panic. It's fine, I just get back in. In wheelchair basketball, you'll see people falling out of their chair all the time and getting back in. The Paralympians will show they don't need anyone's help.

Prepare to have your mind blown!

The public knew what to expect in the Olympics. We knew Usain Bolt and understood all the athletes. But with the Paralympics, 99 per cent of the public will not have a clue what's going on. It's going to blow their minds. The Games haven't even started yet and there have been chances to change the way people think. The comedy show I've been in, I'm Spazticus, is written by and stars disabled people. The title made people assume Channel 4 were mocking the disabled. But it was us challenging the public. Before, if you saw a man in a wheelchair or a blind man on TV, it was always a sad story. We wanted to make people laugh.

Don't come over all politically correct…

Don't worry about how to talk about these athletes. When it comes to disability, people are far too politically correct. Of course you can say someone is blind or in a wheelchair, because they are.

Emily Dugan

Meet the experts

In 2010, Channel 4 launched a £500,000 talent search to find brilliant new disabled sports reporters to be part of their Paralympic team. Here's a guide to the new faces who'll be presenting alongside the likes of Clare Balding, Jon Snow and Jonathan Edwards ….

Arthur Williams, Age 27

A former Royal Marine, and a trained pilot, Williams has competed professionally in wheelchair racing and handcycling. He was even part of the British Cycling Paralympic development squad, before opting for a presenting role.

Daraine Mulvihill, 30

Mulvihill, who lost the use of her legs aged 16 after contracting meningitis, has presented for the BBC, Irish broadcaster RTE, and Sky Sports, but she says the Paralympics will be a "dream job". She is award-winning herself: in 2001, Mulvihill was crowned Irish Person of the Year, no less!

Rachael Latham, 24

As a world record holder, Latham knows what she is talking about: she competed in the Beijing Paralympics in 2008, and holds the record for 50m butterfly. Since quitting the pool due to injury in 2010, Latham has reported the Paralympics World Cup.

Alex Brooker, 29

Sports journalist from Leeds, and fanatical footie fan. He has written for the Liverpool Echo, the Press Association, and is chief writer on the official Paralympics guide. He's looking forward to some "showbiz parties with Channel 4.…"

Liam Holt, 28

Make sure you catch Holt's basketball commentary: as coach and captain of Cardiff Celts wheelchair team, he knows his hoops. Having worked as a researcher on all four series of That Paralympic Show, he's no stranger to TV either.

Martin Dougan, 25

Dougan, a carpenter, is also handy on the basketball court with the Lothian Phoenix wheelchair club. He has been presenting for Channel 4 since its talent search and hopes the 2012 coverage will be a "leap forward" for the Paralympics.

Jordan Jarrett-Bryan, 28

Another wheelchair basketball whizz-kid, Jarrett-Bryan played at national level for 15 years, and was twice European champion with the GB junior team. He's also worked as a journalist for youth publications – and he's handy as a drum 'n' bass DJ.

Diana Man, 29

Eighteen years ago, Man broke the under-12s 70m hurdles record – it still stands. But she lost her legs to meningococcal septicaemia at the age of 25, and today her main passion is horses. Man competes as well as commentates on para dressage.

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker