As you can see, noticeable diversity exists among us as disability activists. But in all reality, that list was nothing more than a glimpse of the range of terminology being used when including the disability community, as well as its friends, parents and allies.These terms came from parents, community members, medical professionals, siblings, friends and even from people with disabilities.
Admittedly, there are words in both lists that make me ill, and if I heard them spoken, I would be forced to ask if the user knew what was being implied.
I would note offense taken and why, and I would provide alternative,socially appropriate language that might be used in its place.
On more than one occasion, I sat at my computer and watched as my frustration crept into the article I attempted to write. Ultimately, I filed away my notes, and decided to begin my own investigation.
It entailed simply listening to people in the disability community describe themselves.
But I am also posing the challenge, myself included, to look at the bigger picturegetting past terminology to the point that we can focus on working together and achieving our movements larger goals: such as education, employment and healthcare.
And in this process, allowing people to see for themselves just how wrong and offensive terms like debilitated and invalid really are. But those in the disability community have countless opportunities to influence change in our daily lives.
The majority, however, didnt seem to think it was possible.
In the movie The American President, one of the characters says: Politics is perception. If people perceive individuals with disabilities as being burdensome, damaged, dumb or flawed, then regardless of the writers claim of wanting equal education and career opportunities for all, in their reality they dont perceive that is possible. The disability community can be equally negative and exclusive.
Might the variance in terminology itself be a form of diversity that should be respected, especially when people use these terms to describe themselves? I recently participated on a team of people invited to review and select essays for a national publication.
The essays were specifically about young people with disabilities.