Disability, do you have a better word?
September 8, 2007 7:44pm CST
The word disability means a physical incapacity, something that disqualifies, lack of ability, inherent lack, weakness, ineptitude, incompetence, helplessness, powerlessness, impotence, defect, etc. Given the meaning of the word, is there any wonder that disabled individuals are discriminated against, harassed, looked down on, judged as triggering their own unfortunate fate with their behavior, avoided,, abused and ignored. The bias is in the word. But I suppose we should be grateful, because disability replaces the far inferior, to me, "handicapped". Handicapped meant disadvantaged, impeded, impaired, hindered, restrained and restricted, burdened, encumbered. Remember the obnoxious euphemisms handi-capable and physically challenged? How are any of these words any less offensive than racial or ethnic slurs? If we want to change attitudes toward disabled individuals, we need to start using terms to refer to them that have different meanings in the dictionary, stronger, more positive meanings. If we want to change disabled individual's attitudes toward themselves, we have to describe them more accurately to the world:as the strong, capable, talented, functional, rational and productive people that they are. So, I ask all of you, do you have a suggestion for a better word or words to describe people who have chronic illnesses or injuries. This is a serious and sincere inquiry. Please, no jokes or nasty or offensive suggestions accepted.
• New Zealand
9 Sep 07
I don't personally agree that there is any problem with the word. The problem is in the attitudes of a small minority of people who would have no more respect for the disabled whatever they were labelled. I am disabled, and yes, I have a lack of ability, weakness, ineptitude, helplessness, powerlessness, all those things. But I very rarely feel the least bit abused or ignored. I think it is just a word.