I wonder when non disabled people will stop asking disabled people why we use the terms “disabled” and “disability”, and correcting us – like they’re words to be ashamed of. It is not ok to tell marginalised people the words we use for ourselves should be changed.
I’m seeing this with Growing Up Disabled in Australia media and events. Stop.
The conversation needs to move beyond this. Especially when it doesn’t seem to be happening to other diverse groups. And especially when there are bigger issues to worry about – like inaccessibility, segregation in schools, unemployment, abuse, and a global pandemic!
And really, allies need to do better to respect the words we use for ourselves.
If we (actually disabled people) use the terms “disabled person” or “person with disability”, or take back a slur word for ourselves, or don’t use a label at all, our choices should be respected.
In the media kit I created for reporting on #GUDIA, I stated:
“Disability and disabled are not bad words. You can write or say “people with disability” or “disabled people”.
Stigma is created when euphemisms …are used. Say the words.”
From some of the questions by media & at events, people think the term “disabled” in the book’s title will put off readers. That it’s offensive. (It’s not.)
Anyway, I also wrote in the contributors’ kit that responding to negative reviews is not a great idea, so I’ll stop now!
Actually – one last thing.
Can you imagine if your identity was debated & dismissed each time you had an interview or did an event. Especially when you’ve had a journey to feel comfortable with this identity.
No? It seems rude, hey?
Well please don’t do this to disabled people.
(This isn’t a new thing by the way. I encounter it in most disability and accessibility work I do, as do many other disabled people.)
PS: the book’s title has been debated from the day we called for contributors (sigh!). But it is doing just fine with the title! It’s gone to reprint!
PPS: this isn’t an opening for non disabled people to tell me how uncomfortable and offended they are by the words “Disability” and “disabled”, thanks.
Has this post helped you think differently about disability? Will you use it in your workplace or school? Please consider buying me a drink.