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Should we use the word 'disabled'?

5 63 0
14.05.2019

As far back as I can remember I’ve always known I’ve had a connection to the word ‘disabled’. I heard the word used by my parents, teachers, medical professionals and even strangers when they referred to me.

‘Disabled’ seemed to be the word that let people know that I was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, used a wheelchair, visited hospitals a lot, went to physiotherapy once a week and had a teaching assistant to support me during class.

I knew ‘disabled’ meant I was different in some way, but for me, I was just Samantha.

I never challenged it or have ever felt defined by it in any way either, to be honest, I didn’t really think about what the word meant to me, that is until I began work as a campaigner and started my career in television and media, where I became increasingly mindful of the choice of language I used to describe others.

I recognised that the words we use about other people say a lot about the way we see each other and ourselves.

The words we use to describe different groups of people can have an enormous impact on the way people are seen and treated by others within society and a negative label can be internalised and hold negative consequences for the person being labelled.

We can see this in particular when we look at the trans community and the importance of using correct gender pronouns, for example.

The same respect and acknowledgement should, therefore, extend to those within the disabled community, who have throughout history seen........

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