Is Disability A Bad Word?

ricardo-iv-tamayo-1209516-unsplash

In mid April of this year, Clover Moore, the Sydney Lord Mayor, is considering making the word disabled a bad thing. She is being advised by the City Council who is currently trying to modernize their disability policies. The Council advises that the word disability will soon become as bad as the ‘n’ word today. This is offensive to many groups of people and honestly doesn’t relate to the topic. I think it degrades the severe struggles people of color have gone through in the past and are going through today. The general stance on changing the word disabled has been two sided.  For example, Mark Tonga, a member of the City Council says, using the word disabled makes it come across that the said person has “less capacity and less ability” (Camilla Theakstone). There has been a huge amount of backlash regarding this proposed change.

The Mayor is considering changing the word disabled to “Access Inclusion Seekers”. A man from the Centre for Independent Studies disagreed. His name is Dr. Jeremy Sammut and his job is to work as an advisor of sorts for the Australian government. Sammut argued that, “policing the language people used was unnecessary and argued issues about inclusion had been dealt with in the past” (Camilla Theakstone). He continues on to say, “This is the reason why there is national support for the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme)… the term “Access Inclusion Seekers” would be very patronizing surely when these people think of someone “disabled” as being someone like… Dylan Alcott” (Camilla Theakstone). Dylan Alcott “is an Australian wheelchair basketballer, wheelchair tennis player, radio host and motivational speaker” (Dylan Alcott).

The reason why many people take offense to this term is because of the type of language it uses. The term “Access Inclusion Seekers” is a type of People First Language. This form of language is described as, “a type of linguistic prescription which puts a person before a diagnosis, describing what a person “has” rather than asserting what a person “is” (People-First Language). This type of language is now regarded as disability etiquette. However, this type of language was not created by those with disabilities, but those who work with disabled people. According to the blog ‘The Inclusion Revolution’, “as a result however they removed a vitally important piece of that individuals psyche. It also made that individual less. It reduced the individuals true identity” (Theinclusionrevolution). “It is in fact an extremely important word that allows a disabled person to own their disability, it creates confidence and is damn empowering” (Theinclusionrevolution).

The black lash that came from the term “Access Inclusion Seekers” was phenomenal. While the term is technically correct, the wording gives it a larger sense that disabled people are “seeking” something that isn’t there’s. The term makes it sound like said person is not disabled, just seeking inclusion. Here is a tweet replying to the ridiculousness of it all. Saoirse (@Saoirse86657971) “Access Inclusion Seekers? First, isn’t that harder to say, and thus, for some, a less accessible term than disabled, and second, aren’t human beings ‘inclusion seekers’, as well? Like, we don’t call black/non-white people “inclusion seekers of colour”, last I checked.” April 18th, 2019. 06:36 a.m. Tweet. I agree wholeheartedly with her.

I believe everyone struggles with the word disabled. Initially, I hated the description with all of my being. I even wrote a story for ‘The Mighty’ about it here. Yet as I grew more disabled, I grew more knowledgeable as well. Disability is indeed the inability to do something, I can attest to that. However, it is a part of me. If I were to hide a giant part of my life and personality, where would I be? Being disabled is what drives me forward to help others like me. It has given me the privilege to know other disabled individuals. I am proud to be have disabilities because it gives me the unique opportunity to show others that we are all human. I honestly would not trade my disabilities for anything.

Thank you for reading this important article today! What do you think of this this new term? Let me know. Please subscribe and I’ll see you next time my Un-imaginables!


Sources:

Camilla Theakstone For Daily Mail Australia. “Calling People Disabled Is Offensive and Should Be Replaced with ‘Access Inclusion Seekers’, Plan.” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 18 Apr. 2019, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6932549/Calling-people-disabled-offensive-replaced-Access-Inclusion-Seekers-plan.html?ito=amp_twitter_share-top.

“Dylan Alcott.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Apr. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dylan_Alcott.

“People-First Language.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 6 Mar. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People-first_language.

Theinclusionrevolution. “Why the Word ‘Disability’ Matters.” The Inclusion Revolution, 5 Mar. 2018, theinclusionrevolution.ca/2018/03/04/why-the-word-disability-matters/.

Original Photo by Ricardo IV Tamayo on Unsplash

2 thoughts on “Is Disability A Bad Word?

  1. I too do not care for the proposed term, “Access Inclusion Seekers.” Unwieldy. Appreciated the thought in this article that although the term “disabled” does not and should not totally define a person, it is a part if who he or she us. Good article.

    Liked by 1 person

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