When it comes to the use of the word "Disability" some now take offence to it’s use. I was once on an interview for a position with a company that works on the behalf of those with disabilities, at one point I used the word disability and was quickly told that it is inappropriate term. I never did get hired for the job quite possibly for uttering a word that some now view as offensive. There issue with the word is that for them it represents something negative. So those behind the movement to have us stop saying it want us using different words - ones that they hope will result in people viewing us in a more positive way. To them for some reason the use of the word disability only helps to reinforce negative stereo types.
Now I am sure we can all agree that one of the most offensive words to use these days would have to be handicapped. A word that at times has been used to make fun of us but thankfully these day it’s a very unpopular term. Some within our community today simply want us to be referred to as the differently abled which is a term that was introduced in the 1980’s. But it’s use has never really caught on as many people don’t like the fact that it still suggests that we are somehow different. Another more popular term is disabled but still some also have issues with it’s use as they believe people outside our community also view it in a negative way.
Current Popular Terms
A much more popular thing to do today is to some how incorporate “abilities” into any word being used to describe those with a disability. Locally there is a place called the abilities centre which is a place for people of all abilities which is great. Then you also have the abilities expo along with magazines which is also a great use of the word. But in a way, it’s not the best word for us to use when telling others, we have a disability. In all honesty if we use it during an interview or while trying to explain our issues the use of the word abilities might confuse some people. The first thing that comes to mind when someone tells me the have abilities is that they have certain talents or simply that they think have super powers. After all disabled or not don’t we all have certain abilities? So, in a way it’s also not the best word for us to use.
So where does this leave us?
With no acceptable term these days what are supposed to do? Go back to it being okay to use the word disability? As for differently abled aren’t we all differently abled as everyone has certain abilities & talents. So, in my opinion it’s also not an acceptable term. Then you can look at the word abilities which makes a great name for a businesses or expo’s catering to people with disabilities, but as a term used in social gatherings when trying to explain our physical challenges it’s not good at all. At times, I have used the term physical limitation’s but that can also be viewed as an offensive term to some. The truth is none of us really know what to say anymore especially in a time when political correctness is king.
The truth is maybe there is no acceptable term to use but for me when sharing my story and raising awareness I know when I tell someone I have a disability they know exactly what I mean. So as of today, I will continue to use the word disability. As for me and many of us with disabilities it’s actually a word that represents strength and determination to face life’s challenges head on. So, as you can see maybe it is a positive word for us to use. In a way if you have a negative view of the word disability you might just be the one with the problem.