Handicapped vs Disabled: Difference and Comparison

Handicap and disability are used for people who have special needs, and both these terms are closely related to each other. Due to this, they can be used interchangeably by people.

To be called any of both terms, individuals may experience low self-esteem, social stigma, and support system issues.

Key Takeaways

  1. Handicapped implies a disadvantage or restriction caused by a physical or social barrier, whereas a disabled focus on the individual’s impairment.
  2. Disabled is the preferred term, as it acknowledges the functional limitation without perpetuating negative stereotypes.
  3. Language around disability has evolved, shifting towards person-first language and emphasizing ability rather than limitation.

Handicapped vs. Disabled

The difference between handicapped and disabled is that to be handicapped is to have not as many opportunities to be involved in activities as compared to the majority of the population, whereas to be disabled is to have a lack of ability to carry out an activity that is considered normal by the community.

Handicapped vs Disabled
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Language Quiz

Language quiz helps us to increase our language skills

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What is the term used to describe the way words are put together to form sentences?

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What is the difference between a language and a dialect?

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What is the term for a word that is opposite in meaning to another word?

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Put ________ bag on ________ table, then give me ________ apple and ________ bar of chocolate.

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What is the term used to describe words that connect clauses or sentences?

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What is the term for the set of rules for pronunciation in a language?

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Choose the correct word: I'm sorry, I didn't catch your __________.

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What is the study of language in use and context called?

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Choose the word that means the opposite of "to begin":

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Choose the word that means the same as "to misplace":

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Also, a handicap is considered a disadvantage or difficulty, while a disability is considered a condition or an inability. A disability can also be explained as a reduced capacity of an individual to specifically perform a movement, execute a cognitive function, or detect certain sensory information.

On the other hand, handicap mainly focuses on the obstacles experienced by an individual due to some restrictions in the environment. In other words, the effect of a disability is a handicap.

For many people, the term handicapped is condescending or offensive as it is related to begging.


 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonHandicappedDisabled
DefinitionTo be handicapped is to have fewer or limited opportunities to be involved in activities compared to most of the population.To be disabled is to lack the ability to carry out an activity that is considered normal by the community.
Internal/ExternalBeing handicapped is denoted as an external source as it focuses on an individual’s obstacles in communication, education, occupation, and others.Being disabled denotes an internal source as it focuses on an individual’s reduced capacity to perform activities due to illnesses, trauma, accidents, heredity, and other conditions.
Lack of restrictionsHandicaps lack restrictions on opportunities.Disabled people have a lack or restriction of ability.
Body partA loss of function in a specific body part is more associated with a handicap.Disability is a lifelong condition and thus is less associated with the loss of function of a body part.
SportsHandicapped is more linked with sports.Disability is less linked with sports.

 

What is Handicapped?

To be handicapped is to have not as many opportunities to be involved in activities as compared to the majority of the population. Being a handicap is denoted to be an external source.

It is focused on the obstacles an individual faces in communication, education, occupation, and others related things. Handicaps lack restrictions on opportunities.

A loss of function in a specific body part is more closely associated with a handicap. Also, the handicapped is more closely linked with sports.

There are sports like tennis handicaps and golf handicaps for these people. The challenges faced by handicaps are less than the disabled people as it deals with difficulty and not inability.

For many people, the term handicapped is condescending or offensive as it relates to begging. The effect or consequence of a disability is a handicap.

handicapped
 

What is Disabled?

To be disabled is a lack of ability to carry out an activity considered normal by the other people in the community. Being disabled denotes an internal source.

It is focused on the reduced capacity of an individual to perform activities that other people do due to some illnesses, trauma, accidents, heredity, and other conditions. Disabled people have a lack or restriction of ability.

It is a lifelong condition such as blindness, cerebral palsy, or intellectual disability and thus is less associated with the loss of function of a body part. For example, a blind person born blind is more likely to experience obstacles in navigating, reading, and other activities throughout his life.

The challenges faced by disabled people very much as it deals with the inability to do something.

disabled

Main Differences Between Handicapped and Disabled

  1. To be handicapped is to have fewer opportunities to be involved in activities than the majority of the population, whereas to be disabled is to have a lack of ability to carry out an activity considered normal by the community.
  2. Being handicapped is denoted to be an external source as it is focused on the obstacles an individual faces in education, occupation, communication, and others, while being disabled denotes an internal source as it is focused on the decreased capacity of an individual to perform activities that are considered normal for other people due to any illnesses, trauma, accidents, heredity, and other related conditions.
  3. Handicaps have a lack of opportunities, whereas disabled people have A loss of function of a specific body part is more associated with handicap than disability.
  4. Handicapped is more closely linked with sports than disability.
Difference Between Handicapped and Disabled

References
  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/073428299000800404
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305417988800044

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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10 thoughts on “Handicapped vs Disabled: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The article nicely outlines why the term ‘handicapped’ is offensive. It’s important to be considerate and use accurate and respectful language to describe people with disabilities.

  2. Great article about the differences between handicapped and disabled. Very informative and insightful. Thank you for sharing!

  3. While I appreciate the historical context of these terms, I still think it’s crucial to consult people with disabilities about their preferred language rather than making assumptions.

  4. This article provides an informative comparison of the terms ‘handicapped’ and ‘disabled’, shedding light on the impact of language on perceptions of individuals with disabilities.

  5. This is a fascinating article that really opens up the debate on the use of language and its implications. It’s essential to be conscious and respectful of the terms we use.

  6. Avatar of Alexander Bailey
    Alexander Bailey

    I think it’s evident from the article that ‘disabled’ is the more appropriate term, as it focuses on the individual’s impairment rather than perpetuating negative stereotypes.

  7. I find it very offensive that people still use the term ‘handicapped’. It’s outdated and perpetuates negative stereotypes. We should all use ‘disabled’ from now on.

  8. The article provides a clear and concise explanation of the differences. However, I believe that the term ‘disabled’ still carries stigmas in society, regardless of how it is used.

  9. Avatar of Catherine Bradley
    Catherine Bradley

    The article clearly identifies the differences between handicapped and disabled and emphasizes the importance of using respectful language when discussing disabilities. An excellent piece.

  10. The comparison table was helpful in understanding the key differences between handicapped and disabled. It’s crucial for people to be educated on these distinctions.

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