Several recent experiences, culminating with the non-disabled host of a radio program about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) devoting airtime to articulate why we should replace the word, have brought the issue back to mind, and I have come to believe that the words we use to describe ourselves are more important than ever, only I believe we instead need to embrace the word "disability" and discard the others. Here's why:
First off, I adhere to the social model of disability, which means that I am not disabled by Muscular Dystrophy but by the society that refuses to include me. In this way, my actual "disabilities" are stairs, heavy doors that don't open automatically, unlivable personal care attendant wages, the lack of affordable, accessible housing, the cost-cutting practices of insurance companies and government agencies. This list is by no means exhaustive, but the idea here is that if these problems did not persist in my life, I would not feel "disabled," and I honestly wouldn't even think of myself as "disabled." And if we do away with the word disability in favor of a soft alternative with an opposite meaning, we may risk losing this social perspective which is at the core of the disability rights movement.
| Holding my hands up in terror as I sit in the shadows before a steep staircase.|
I think the stairs are the real problem here.
|On my first ADAPT action. Disabled and proud!|
|A blast from the past: long-haired,|
18-year-old me and stranger dog checking
out the accessible entrance.
Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments section below, or explore the various perspectives on this complex issue by reading these other articles: