What words mean – glossary

Access / Accessibility

Access and accessibility are how easy something is for a disabled person to use. They are words used for things that make access better. Examples:

  • Saying what a picture looks like for someone who cannot see it (image description).
  • Putting writing or sign language on a film for people who cannot hear it.
  • Using easier to understand words.
  • Having writing in bigger print.


To say something is accessible means a disabled person can easily use it. Examples:

  • Captions on a film make it accessible to people who cannot hear well.
  • Saying what is in a picture makes it accessible to someone who cannot see well.


Activism is when people do things to try to make something change. Example: disabled people’s activism is doing campaigns, protesting on the street, writing songs and poetry, making banners and placards.


Anti means you do not agree with something. You are against it. Anti-Apartheid means you are do not agree with Apartheid.


Apartheid is when a government says one group of people must live separately from another group. They are treated very badly and unfairly. South Africa used to have Apartheid, when black people were treated badly and had to live separately from white people.


This has 2 meanings.

  1. Lots of items or things kept together. They can be papers, photographs, posters, postcards and lots of other things.
  2. A building or room where archives are kept.


An archivist is someone who works with archives.


Someone’s attitude is what they think about something. A negative attitude is when someone thinks badly or nastily about something or someone.

Audio description

Audio description is when someone talks over a film to say what is on the screen.


Austerity means the government and local authorities are spending less money on services to help people.


A banner is a big piece of material that has writing or drawing on it. The writing or drawing can be the name of a group or saying what people think about something. Banners are carried by people in rallies, on demonstrations or protests. Examples of what can be on a banner: ‘Save the Independent Living Fund’, ‘Not Dead Yet UK’.


Barriers are things that stop us doing something. Examples for some disabled people are small print, steps, complicated words, people not wanting us to be in a place.


A Bill is the name for a law before it has been agreed by Parliament. Parliament is where decisions are made about how the country is run.


A campaign is a way to tell people about something important.


When a film has captions there is writing on the screen. It says what is being said and some sounds that can be heard in the film.


A catalogue is a list of items in an archive. Another name is a finding aid. The bits of information in a catalogue are called records.


A collection is a group of items that are kept together because they share something. They may be from 1 person or a group. They may be about the same topic or theme. Sometimes an archive can have collections inside it. Sometimes people use the words collection and archive to mean the same thing.


To create something is to make it.


Creative means using our imagination and our own ideas to make something.


Words that say what a group of people want to say.


A demonstration is when people get together to tell people what they think. Demonstrations are usually on the streets or in front of a building.

Disabled people’s organisation

A disabled people’s organisation is a group that is run by disabled people. It is a group where all of the people or most of the people in it are disabled people.


On this website disability means things that stop disabled people doing what we want to do or join in (barriers). Some people use the word disability to mean a person’s impairment.

Discrimination. Discrimination is when you are treated badly or unfairly because of your sex, race, religion, identifying as a disabled person or sexual identity.


A document is writing. It can be as little as one piece of paper or as much as a big report.


Ephemera is something that will be used once or for a short time. It is not meant to last for a long time. Some examples are letters, flyers about an event or postcards.


Equality means treating people fairly and making sure they have the same chances in life.

Equal Opportunities means everyone has the same chances.


A festival is when people get together to be pleased about something and show how good something is (celebrate). Festivals can have music, dancing, poetry, art, information, people speaking and much more.

Finding aid

A finding aid is a list of items in an archive. Another name is catalogue.


A flyer is a small piece of paper giving a little bit of information.


Heritage has 2 meanings:

  1. Objects or things that are from the past. Examples: buildings, books, papers.
  2. Objects, things, what we believe and how we do things that make us feel we have a past to belong to. Example: a banner from a protest in the 1970s   is part of disabled people’s heritage.


What happened in the past.


Impairment is something about your body or mind that is missing or different to most people.


Independent means different things / Independence

  1. Choosing what you want to do, how you want to do it, where you want to go, where you want to live. This is what Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People means by independent.
  2. Doing things for yourself.

Independent Living

Living independently means having all the support you need to be able to live where you want to live, do what you want to do and go where you want to go.

Individual / Individuals

A person or people.


Information is something you may want to know.


An item is the word for one thing in a collection or archive. Examples, a postcard, a photograph, a book.


Legislation is another word for law.


Lyrics are the words of a song.


Material has 2 meanings. 1 item or thing in an archive, and more than 1 item or thing in an archive.

Narrative history

Narrative history is people telling their stories themselves. People think of it as talking. It can be with sign language too. Another word for oral history.

Oral History

Oral history is when people tell their stories themselves. People think of it as talking. It can be with sign language too. Another word for narrative history.

Pilot issue

A pilot of something means to try or test it. A pilot issue of a magazine is trying it for the first time to see if people like it.


A project is people spending time doing something that will make a difference or make something. Example, the project to create the Disabled People’s Archive.


Letting people know you do not like something or are not happy with something. Protests can be with groups of people. Example: a protest against services being cut.


A rally is when lots of people come together to show they agree with something. Rallies usually have people speaking to the people who have come to join in.


Record has 2 meanings:

  1. A piece of information about an item in an archive. Example, a record in a catalogue.
  2. To make a film or audio recording of something. To write about something. Examples, record someone talking or signing, make a record of a meeting by writing down notes.


A report is writing that gives information about something.


Research is finding things out.


Resource is a place you can find out more. Examples, it can be a printed book or a webpage.


Society is the world all around us. It is the people, the government, the businesses, the services.

Social Model of Disability

The Social Model says that disabled people are disabled because of barriers we face. We are not disabled because of our impairments. It says society must change to include us. We should not try to change ourselves to fit in. Example: buildings should have ramps or no steps for someone who uses a wheelchair. someone whose legs do not work should not have to try to walk with crutches instead of using a wheelchair.


A toolkit is a booklet or webpage that tells you how to do something. It is giving you the tools to do it.


A transcript is writing that tells what can be heard in audio or film. Example, a transcript of the words of a song.


To view something in an archive means look at it or listen to it.

With thanks to the Easy Read Dictionary from Easy Read Wales for some of these.