29 August 2013

How "Differently Abled" Marginalizes Disabled People

Some people, including people who would conventionally be categorized as disabled, use phrases like "differently abled" to refer to disabled people. This phrase is used because it supposedly humanizes disabled people by focusing on our abilities rather than on our impairments. Those who prefer the phrase "differently abled" often see the terms "disabled" or "disability" as potentially hurtful or offensive. "Dis" means "not," so the argument goes, so calling someone "disabled" must mean that a person is "unable to do anything," "incapable of ever doing anything functional or useful or desirable either by others or by themselves," and therefore, it is wrong to call people disabled.

Speaking from a purely objective standpoint, we as humans are all differently abled from one another. Some people are better at math than other people. Some people are better at public speaking than other people. Some people are better at cooking or even remembering to cook than other people. Some people walk and some do not, and of those people who do walk, not everyone walks in the same way. When referring to groups of people, there is nothing inaccurate with saying that within the group, each person is differently abled. This is true regardless of how many disabled people are in the group or if there are no disabled people in the group.

The problem arises when the term "differently abled" is used to refer to an individual disabled person.




Firstly, calling someone "differently abled" is euphemistic. It is borderline cutesy and it diminishes the actual experiences of disabled people. It suggests that the term disability should be uncomfortable and therefore should be avoided. What this does is further increase stigma against disabled people by discouraging discussion about disability and what it means to be disabled.

Secondly, using the term "differently abled" to refer to disabled people actually reinforces the idea that there is one normal way to be human -- that there is one normal way to move, one normal way to communicate, one normal way to sense, one normal way to feel, one normal way to learn, and one normal way to think. It does not perform its intended purpose of suggesting that all people are different and that this is okay. It suggests that only disabled people, who must now be called "differently abled" instead, are deviant or defective from this normal human model, and it suggests that there is in fact a correct or right way to be "able." It supports the false idea of the normal body/mind, which is what "differently abled" is supposed to undermine, and thus it fails in its supposed purpose.

Thirdly, the phrase "differently abled" ignores the reality that disability is the result of a complicated interaction between individual people's bodies/minds and social, cultural, and political structures that actively work to disable people with atypical bodies/minds. This happens because "differently abled" suggests that disability is one person's individual problem while also denying the impact of systems that privilege people with typical bodies/minds while marginalizing people with atypical bodies/minds.

When I say that I am "disabled," I am not putting myself down, insulting myself, suggesting that something is wrong with me, or making a negative statement about myself. I am staking a claim in an identity that is important to who I am as a person. I am recognizing that my mind/body function atypically, and that because of this, I am constantly forced by mainstream social/cultural attitudes and the laws and policies that enforce them to choose between being othered (and then discriminated against or outright harmed) or accepting the idea that I must hide who I am by passing as an abled person.

By calling myself disabled, I am rejecting the idea that it is wrong to have a mind/body like mine.

When I say that I am "disabled," I am not reducing myself to my disability, just as I am not reducing myself to my gender or my race when I say that I am a woman or that I am Asian. Being disabled is one part, albeit an important part, of my multifaceted identity. Each of these parts overlaps with each other, blurs into each other, and intersects with each other; they are not separated or disparate. It is important for me to define who I am, and being disabled is an important part of how I define myself.

I do not believe in referring to disabled people as "differently abled" because this language only serves to reinforce oppression of disabled people by systems that marginalize atypical bodies/minds.

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Photo: I (Lydia) am standing in front of several people walking down a stone path, holding a large white poster with the colored block letters "Autistic & Proud" in multi-colored rainbow handwritten marker. I'm a young east asian person with short hair wearing glasses. 

50 comments:

  1. I think the real reason some of us like the term "differently abled" is because the world will label certain differences as a disability, when in reality they are not disabilities at all. They are abilities that are expressed atypically. Society sees something atypical, and labels it as a "disability." That is far more harmful than simply saying "differently abled."

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    1. I disagree.

      It's not just that we have different sets of abilities. I mean, that in itself is true...but that's not the whole story.

      The disability comes in when our physical or neurological differences do in fact leave us with substantial difficulty doing the things that most of society takes for granted that people can be expected to be able to do.

      Society doesn't just label differences disabilities--usually, society sees something atypical--disability or otherwise--and labels it WRONG. And I think it's important to hit home that disability is NOT wrong.

      I do have abilities that are expressed atypically, but I also have substantial difficulties with things that most of society thinks should be easy. I also know plenty of people who are merely different, and DON'T have those kinds of difficulties. I think it trivializes the magnitude and experience of what disability is to simply conflate it with difference.

      If you don't see yourself as disabled, but differently abled, no one is going to make you identify as disabled.

      I am disabled, it's made me creative and tough, and I see nothing to be ashamed of in that. Stigmatizing disability and refusing to acknowledge it openly hinders acceptance for the kinds of technologies and accommodations that could help a lot of people lead fuller lives.

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    2. It means to be disabled by society's lack of accommodation to people with different abilities. I myself am not disabled by being autistic, society disables me by not understanding me, by not accepting that I am the way I am and that it's okay. Even someone so much as stopping me from stimming is disabling me by doing so. If they would understand, if people wouldn't stare, I would be perfectly and happily-abled-after.

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    3. I agree with chavisory. We don't use the term "disability" or "disabled" for people who are left-handed, have buck teeth, are gay, or who aren't good dancers. Those characterists are all differences, but they aren't disabilities. That is because those differences do not significantly impair any major life functions.

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    4. I'm a lefty and legally blind. Sometimes, I do feel just about as disabled by being left-handed as legally blind. And, as others have mentioned, it's not necessarily because my abilities are inferior so much as because there are things baked into society that make life more difficult for lefties, just as there are for legally blind people.

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    5. And before the DSM was changed, being gay *WAS* a disability. And some people who are not good dancers are so because of disabilities. I totally agree that "differently abled" means nothing, is cutesy, and implies that disability is a term which is bad and cannot be used...right up there with "person first" terminology. As I have said and will continue to - "If you have to use PFL to remember I am human, you have a severe social issue"

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  2. Lydia, thank you for writing this. I'm particularly passionate about this issue and I'll actually be posting a blog I've written on a semi-similar topic in a week or so. I wish more people would talk back against the tangled web of political correctness in disability linguistics.

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  3. Thanks yet again. Indeed the cutesy euphamism is not ok.

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  4. I look forward to a world where accepting the idea that there are many possible differences doesn't mean having to accept some notion that there is one version of being that is 'normal'.

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    1. No there isn't one version of a being that is "normal" but there is a majority of society that is biological/neurologically one way and a minority of people that are another. We call someone disabled in a wheelchair, because there are way more people that walk than people that don't and those in wheel chairs require special attention. I mean without medical equipment some of those people might not live at all. If you need help to function in life then it's important that we address that. If you're applying to get SSI then that means you have a dis-ability to work. If you have a blue badge hanging from your mirror that means you get the better parking and I get a ticket for parking there.

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    2. SkillciaX, my friend, you also need a lot of help to "function in life." Unless of course you, for example, grow all of your food yourself, built your home yourself, and taught yourself everything you know. Do YOU have the innate ability to do all of these things? We all need each other to function in life...

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  5. "Firstly, calling someone 'differently abled' is euphemistic. It is borderline cutesy and it diminishes the actual experiences of disabled people. It suggests that the term disability should be uncomfortable and therefore should be avoided. What this does is further increase stigma against disabled people by discouraging discussion about disability and what it means to be disabled..."

    I think this encapsulated the entirety of what's wrong with the term "differently abled." To me the term is more of a way for able allies to feel better about using the "correct language." By obscuring the definition it presents a feeling of "other" and conveys to many that the disabled feel entitled to "special rights"--a fallacious notion if I ever heard one! Plus, it defeats any chance at answering questions that would lead to acceptance, in exchange for begrudging tolerance. Saying "well, at least these weirdos are good at something" is exactly the wrong message to teach. It continues the association of intrinsic, human worth with ability to work. Although working in your society is desirable, it should not be the justification of someone's life.

    In addition, this term, as well as "handicapable" and whatnot, always carried an age connotation to me. "Oh look at that kid in the Special Olympics, xe's so 'handicapable'." It's almost as if to paraeducators, able-bodied adults, nuerotypical adults, or even condescending children think that someone under the age of say 18 is "differently abled"; whereas as a disabled adult is a "failure." It's almost as if we're meant to be corrected by the time we're an adult, and if we're not, then we are "broken." (After I wrote this sentence, I realized that was exactly the notion...)

    Anyway, great post!
    [Note: I spent about twenty minutes editing and rewriting this comment, so if there are mistakes in coherence and/or spelling/grammar, it's because I mashed about 5 different comments into one.]

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  6. Most of these "politically correct" terms sound to me like the r-word in disguise. It's still alienating, but now it's condescending and not so obvious.

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  7. I completely agree! I think of myself as disabled, but I don't think of that as bad. And I love your poster.

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  8. I want to thank you for championing this discourse and clearing a space; it's excellent. I grew up with invisible disabilities, and learned to pass. I was apologetic about my various learning disabilities and processing differences (they're actually called deficits, but screw that).

    But now, since I've been exposed to so many autistic people who speak frankly and unapologetically about their neurological differences, I have the space to stand up and say not that I'm a "person with dysgraphia" or whatever, but that I'm dysgraphic, dysnomic, and dyspraxic. I've got visual and auditory processing needs that are different than many people seem to have, and I need regular space and time to move, rock, and stim.

    I'm no longer apologetic, though I do have to be a little bit of a "disability ambassador" so that people's fears and prejudices don't get the best of them.

    I also find that I no longer react to the differences in others as something to fear or ignore or whatever -- instead, I just note the differences and look for ways to create a space (which includes not doing anything obvious at all if that's the most appropriate thing to do).

    Thank you for clearing a space, Lydia -- you make a difference.

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  9. Awesome post. My experience is that all these tortured expressions ("differently abled" "challenged" etc.) are used by people who are deeply uncomfortable with disability. It's a way of holding the concept -- and the person or community -- at arm's length. Also love autistic sammamish's comment that it seems to say "well, at least these weirdos are good at something." And comes with an invisible, verbal head pat.

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  10. Thank you so much for writing this. I am an average person (and a developmental psychology major) and get annoyed when I am corrected by special education people on what is the current, popular terminology people are 'supposed' to use when referring to people with developmental differences (last I heard it was 'intellectually disabled' vs. 'developmentally disabled'). God it frustrates me because eventually 'differently abled' will also be seen as insulting for some reason (other than the ones you describe, for the same reason 'special' is now a grave insult) and they're missing the point. To me it doesn't matter what we call it because words cannot change what you people experience, and of course you know this. Only the degree of respect and the way typical people interact with atypical people matters to me personally, and messing with wording by special education people rather than finding more meaningful ways of changing societal attitudes is misguided and unproductive. Power to you!

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  11. I just found out about your blog from your wonderful article on Black Girl Dangerous.

    I have a question about what you think on person with disability vs disabled person. I've read (on a now defunct blog, FWD/Forward Feminists with Disabilities) that it's a difference in philosophy in Europe & Canada vs the States. Thoughts? I like disabled person better for the same reasons you said above but I don't think Person with Disability(ies) is the especially problematic in the way differenty abled is. Is there something I'm overlooking?

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  12. I first heard the term diffability used by someone with autism that I have a deep admiration and respect for. The reason that term was first coined was to stop the stigma created by the negative connotation that the word disability gives. I have to say if we could just accept that we were all different then there would be no need for any of this.

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  13. I totally agree. This political correctness is confusing people, when the words mean the same thing. Dis meaning not. if you're in a wheel chair then that's a disability to walk because the "majorty" of society walks. It's a way to differentiate that hey you in the wheel chair need more accomodations than someone who's walking and that's perfectly ok. Dis-abled isn't to be taken as a dis, but yes we are differently-abled so that itself isn't even correct grammer at all. Could you imagine explaining that to someone who spoke a different language?

    The word Dis is supposed to categorize/differentiate the minority group, and give special attention to those needing it (parking spaces). If you need extra help to function in society than the majority of society then you're disabled. It's not offensive. It is what it is. No one is looking down on you because you function differently than the majority. Some people don't have arms and write with their toes, and some people don't have legs and get around on their arms, but that doesn't make you diferently-abled when every person does things differently... Calling a special needs person, differently-abled, handi-capped, or dis-abled is the SAME thing because it all refers to a group of people needing special attention to function in life. If you didn't have a wheel-chair you wouldn't be getting around much...

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  14. I'll call you whatever you wish, but make up your mind. I don't want to hurt feelings or denigrate anyone, but I'd like to be able to speak or write without getting beat on because I used the term *you* don't like but which others demand.

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    1. too right Anonymous. I would add "but I'd like to be able to speak or write without getting beat on because I used the term *you* don't like but which others choose.

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  15. Whenever anyone tries to tell me that I'm 'differently abled', I just say, "Well, we're all differently abled, aren't we? After all, I'm really good at writing fanfiction, and you're really good at (insert ability here)."

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  16. Lydia, I have multiple disabilities. A primary one is nonverbal ld. Within the NLD and specific learning disability communities we use differently abled. It's the same way as those who are physically disabled may represent with crip or other seemingly degrading language. Until you know said context, please know that some choose to use this as an identity, a reclaim and a way to have a community. Particularly specific ld use it.

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  17. Growing up with disabilities that range from invisible to physical, I have to say that being called disabled, which others would switch out with crippled or retarded, has been one of the hugest blows to my identity.

    Our society thrives on giving groups labels to fit in. This allows terminologies that are harmful in context to dictate how others perceive us. In the dictionary, to be disabled literally means unable to operate or perform. There has been no differentiation in the english language that separates those with 'disabilities' and objects that no longer work. Hell, for the longest time, it was considered PC to call us crippled and retarded! It is not a far cry to say that how the general public sees and treats the disabled has a lot to do with how we are labeled.

    I personally hate being labeled with archaic terms that hinders with how others see me and prefer the word differently abled because it puts no focus on what my limitations are. Even if I say that I am physically differently abled, that still signifies that my mobility concerns makes me different but still capable. Those who have no differences I simply call abled bodied.

    In all, everyone has a right to be labeled or called how they see fit.

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  18. We're building labels. Some of these labels are pigeon holing, some are PC, some are changing descriptors, some are intentionally insulting, some are just pop. Some of the kids are the worst label offenders. As an ex high school teacher, I would hear SLD students holler out at each other as they changed classes, "you know you ain't nothin' but a 'tard.'" Self imposed derogatory descriptors are cool. Much like what we are seeing/hearing as young people call each other and even themselves a "nigga." This may be cool to them but my ears bleed when I hear it.. Maybe labels only satisfy the label maker.

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    1. Some would argue that your use of the phrase "disabled people" to describe the community is also a form of marginalization, because it puts the emphasis on one's disability simply by the order in which the phrase is written.

      They are people first, who so happen to have a disability. Thus, another way to put it is "people with disabilities" or "people living with disabilities."

      I understand that this article was written a few years back so this is no way intended to offend or take a jab at the writer, just wanted to insert that perspective since it was recently explained that way to me.

      However, I think when it comes to individual identity: you have every right to use whatever language you deem necessary to describe who you are to the world.

      With love,

      MH

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    2. The disability community is very deeply divided on person-first (i.e. people with disabilities) and identity-first (i.e. disabled people). I've written extensively about why I (and many other disabled people) strongly prefer identity-first language, but in a nutshell -- if there's nothing wrong with being disabled, why do we have to separate personhood from disability as though they are mutually exclusive? Being disabled (like being queer or being Asian) does define me, and that's okay. Being disabled is not incompatible with being a person.

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  19. Watching my LanguageJune 18, 2015 at 9:53 PM

    Thanks for this. I am trying to engender the best practise I can, however your article raises some issues for me surrounding the colonisation of language and ontology. I am a First Nations (Australian) woman and a lecturer in Indigenous Studies. Most of my students are non-Indigenous and some of my students are registered with Disability Services.

    The issues I have surrounding this are that it can be very difficult to render Indigenous understandings of the world legible to non-Indigenous people, especially when using the coloniser's language. Specifically, a lot of my mob use the term 'differently abled' only because it is the most adequate way to describe our Indigenous reality in a non-Indigenous language.

    For example, Kendall, Milliken, Barnett & Marshall (2008, p.226) say that “…some researchers have identified a high incidence of physical impairments in Aboriginal communities, but have found that the families involved did not regard these impairments as disabilities. Similarly, researchers have found that many Aboriginal languages have no word that translates to disability.”

    The authors surmise that "given the value of sociability and connectedness in most Aboriginal communities, researchers have found that only those conditions that prevent participation are likely to be seen as disabilities (see Maher, 1999)."

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  20. That definitely adds more nuance that I hadn't considered. I would question whether other terms like atypical, neuroatypical, etc. would be amenable for representing that reality without reinforcing ablenormativity.

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  21. I think this might be of interest:

    http://yesthattoo.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/disabled-and-differently-abled.html

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  22. I really think that in general euphemisms should not be used. They inevitably lessen the true value or impact of something, and they are inherently deceptive and misleading. I think it is always better to be completely honest.

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  23. Surely "disabled" should be an indicator of a lack of ability, whereas "differently abled" is not?

    If a person can't walk, see, hear or speak, than that to me would qualify them as "disabled". Whereas someone who was left-handed or whose abilities were better suited to cultures other than the one that they're in would qualify as "differently abled".

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  24. Surely "disabled" should refer to people who lack ability, such as being unable to see or hear or walk or speak, whereas "differently abled" refers to people who aren't suited to their environment, such as left-handed people.

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    1. It comes off as euphemistic as well as a useless descriptor (because everyone, whether or not they're disabled, is "differently abled"). And a lot of disabled people have difficulties getting their impairments, let alone the socially-imposed disabilities they experience, recognized, so being able to say that yes, one is actually disabled, even though they can (insert activity that supposedly only nondisabled people can do) is important.

      At this point, we don't have a universal term to express how some people can be disabled and skilled at the same time in different areas that doesn't sound like someone is trying to ignore or downplay the disability part of it (e.g., differently abled) and doesn't have a lot of baggage attached to it (e.g., savant). "Twice exceptional" comes close, but is generally specific to the K-12 context.

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  25. I wanted to say thank You! when I first found your page I was confused. I have disliked the term disabled, but see that I was not seeing it in the right terms. I am not on the spectrem, but have my own disablilties, Married to someone on the spectrum and have 2 boys that are disabled. I have come to understand what you mean thourgh your links and your posts. And I truely apperciate that you are sharing your thoughts and prespective. I have shared your views, but was using the wrong langage. I love my Husband for who is and the way he is, and the same is true for both of my boys, I do not wish to change them or make them fit. My Husband is right for me in part due to his being on the spectrum not in spite of it. I hope that comes arcross clearly.

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  26. I am a mental health counselor trainee and I am writing a paper about the neurodiversity movement within the sociopoltical model of "disability" civil rights. I am also diagnosed Autistic. I would like to open a neurodiverse dialogue with you about our viewpoints on this very issue. Please email me your email address so I can email you my paper. Thank you and I look forward to a great dialogue!

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  27. I am a mental health counselor trainee and I am writing a paper about the neurodiversity movement within the sociopoltical model of "disability" civil rights. I am also diagnosed Autistic. I would like to open a neurodiverse dialogue with you about our viewpoints on this very issue. Please email me your email address so I can email you my paper. Thank you and I look forward to a great dialogue!

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  28. Hi Lydia, thanks for writing this and sharing your opinion.

    I see this whole topic from an inclusive point of view. I think “differently abled” is more inclusive of everyone than “disabled”. I am an amputee who uses a prosthetic leg to assist me to walk. I don’t prefer the term “disabled” because “disabled” means “not abled”. So, that right there should not be used to describe ANYONE; simply because of what the words MEAN. The term “differently abled” simply implies that, my ability to move around is not disabled; my ability to move is different than a person who doesn’t use a prosthetic leg; it doesn’t put my ability on a lower scale than someone who is not an amputee or doesn’t use an assistive prosthetic device; the term does not misrepresent my ability, simply by way of meaning.

    I think your definition, viewpoint and purpose for the term “differently abled” is different than mine. If I understand you correctly, you are implying that only when you have an impeding physical/ intellectual condition, that you should be called “disabled” or “differently abled”. In my view, the term “differently abled” is applicable to EVERYONE, whether they are an amputee or not, autistic or not, blind or not, deaf or not, etc. Because, “disability” or “different ability” is part of nature and life. I don’t use the term in order to make myself (or other people who are differently abled) feel more inclusive with society; I use the term because it makes everyone in society more inclusive whether you’re differently abled or not.

    I don’t call people who don’t have an amputation “able bodied”. I wouldn’t classify them as “typical”. I wouldn’t classify myself as “atypical”. Because that is not accurate of the human condition. There is no typical; there is no norm. I realize that even people who don’t have autism, have varying ways of relating and communicating with the world. I realize that people who aren’t amputees, have varying abilities. And we are ALL differently abled; not just me.

    I think what I am trying to say is, I, as an amputee (who the current model of society might call “disabled” or “differently abled”), don’t need a different classification. I am no different than anyone else. I understand there are certain times when the need for classification comes up. For example, when someone needs to identify their different ability to government bodies to make something accessible. Let’s take the example of my college where there is a “department of disability services” that help provide sign language interpreters for a deaf person This “need” exists because the school is lacking in designing and providing educational experiences that are inclusive to everyone. Much like all of society, it is playing catch-up to bring accessibility for everyone. Ideally, our school systems and ways of learning should have been designed with inclusivity in mind since the beginning. But unfortunately, our society is only starting to adapt to inclusivity. Ideally, there should never be a “disability” services in my school because, accessibility of all forms should exist in every facet of learning. Until that ideal is achieved, there will be a need for classification. Until then, I prefer the term “differently abled”.

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  29. Honestly, I think all of this hysteria over what to call the mentally disabled comes from the fact that it's their *parents* speaking for them.

    No other group changes it's terminology as fast as the mentally disabled. (Blacks don't demand we stop saying "black," despite the fact that racists use the word in a bad light; Jews have been "Jews" for centuries, despite the word being used in a negative sense; etc.) Talking about race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and physical handicap isn't anywhere near as dangerous as trying to talk about mental disabilities. Why? Because people in the former groups are usually speaking for themselves, and most people aren't oversensitive pussbags. The mentally disabled unfortunately often can't speak for themselves, so they have over-protective parents speaking for them. And understandably, the parents of a disabled person will be even more protective and sensitive that usual parents.

    Obviously there is some prejudice against the mentally disabled, and it should be stopped. But at some point parents need to realize when they're just being parents, and overreacting. You and your kid live in a real world, and the real world isn't politically correct. Just because you saw someone quoting Timmy from "South Park" doesn't mean they actually think your disabled son is like that, any more than singing Chef's songs means they think all black people like that.

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  30. I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (my body is incapable of producing collagen, the "glue" protein responsible for holding joints, skin and organ lining together) and I have found "differently-abled" to be more of an aptly descriptive term, as opposed to "disabled." The reason is simple: while my joints dislocate upon movement, causing me to have to wear braces on my limbs and digits, instead of walking to the mailbox to check my mail, I put my leg braces on, grab my cane or take to my electric wheelchair and make my way to the mailbox. I can do whatever the "able-bodied" person can, just differently

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    1. Well said! I only wish I had your talent for brevity!

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  31. How about a "person for whom society decided to make life difficult by ignoring their existence"?

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    1. You mean like Native Americans? or arguably any/ all minority groups in America?

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  32. I also use the differently abled language as a general term when writing. Mainly to assist people in thinking about ALL labeling and how it interferes with community. I translate a great deal of my work into Spanish and often am trying to work out the wording in both languages. The labeling in Spanish for disabled- discapacitado- is much harsher and stronger than disabled. I don't beleive we can just use one set of language but need to be aware of the group we are speaking to hale our language may be interpreted and adjust to the situation at hand. Peace

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  33. As a mental health therapist, I have used the term "differently abled" with clients. While the term might be "cutesy" to some, to most of my clients it was hugely liberating.
    One came to me with a non-existent family life, severe alcohol abuse, and suicidal ideation. With the introduction of that term (4 weeks of therapy had some positive impact first), his life changed. He started to focus on what he could do and started a small business making things at home.
    I am not a politically correct person, but, for that person, and a few others, this was (possibly) the difference between life and death.

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  34. My point of view here, as a teacher of English as a foreign language and linguist. I am faced with changing terminology like this, and usually feel slightly silly when I have to explain to my students that the term I'm teaching them today will very likely be considered abusive/outdated in the not-too-distant future. (Similarly for LGBTQIA.)

    I would ask if people with disabilities (I've made my choice there) really feel marginalized as much by the choice of phrase as by other, non-linguistic manifestations of ostracism? It seems to me that these other more subtle forms of exclusion have a way of imposing themselves on the terminology, hence the never-ending race to find a better term.

    There's a question that's on my mind. If I, being severely short-sighted and asthmatic (but perfectly able to function using devices such as corrective lenses and bronchodilators), say I'm disabled, would anybody feel I'm usurping a label? Even being insulting to people with more serious problems? Or would it be helpful to broaden the scope of the word, moving towards a more inclusive society?

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