Would it be offensive to say "The Ormerod School educates handicapped children from South"? Should I use "Disabled children" instead?

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    This is not a question about the English language so much as one about style and politics. For instance, you could refer to the Disability Language Style Guide's advice on the word. But no doubt other organizations and guides give different guidance. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Apr 15 at 16:39
  • It's more a "socio-political" distinction than anything to do with English itself. Some people think that disabled is less "offensive" than handicapped (as you seem to be aware already), but most people probably either don't know that or they don't care anyway. – FumbleFingers Apr 15 at 16:40
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    Both of those expressions classify people by their handicaps or disabilities. The preferred expressions nowadays are ones that do not do so, such as children with disabilities. See the guide Jason Bassford linked to for more information. – Colin Fine Apr 15 at 16:42
  • It rather depends on your audience. Person-first is largely preferred in the US, and social model language ("disabled children") in the UK. – SamBC Apr 15 at 16:52
  • @ColinFine: I didn't know that one! The "extended syntax" of the now-preferred version looks similar to how we were told 20-30 years ago that we must say person of colour rather than coloured person. They both seem like somewhat meaningless arbitrary distinctions to me, so it's no wonder many people still can't remember and infallibly follow the new rules. Even UK politicians, who are usually real experts at careful use of language (because they know mainstream media will be watching them like hawks! :) – FumbleFingers Apr 15 at 16:54

This is a highly complicated matter, heavily dependent on what country you are in, and what attitude you expect the audience to have. However, handicapped is frowned on by the disabled community everywhere in the English-speaking world that I'm aware of. The pitfall is whether you should say "disabled people" (or children) or "persons with disabilities" (or children with disabilities). The first is social model language, and the second person-first language. The former is preferred by organised disability movements in Canada and the United Kingdom, and the latter in the United States, though of course both have their adherents in the countries that prefer the other. The explanation as to why each is preferred by its adherents is, I would say, beyond the scope of this site.

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