Emily Ladau is a writer and a disability activist. She writes her own blog, “Words I Wheel By”, and contributes articles regularly for the Center For Disability Rights.
In a recent article written for the Center For Disability Rights, entitled “4 Euphemisms That Need To Bite The Dust”, Emily lists four words that the disability community feels are inappropriately used to describe people with disabilities. Here is an excerpt from her article:
One of the biggest disparities surrounding disability is the language people use to refer to it. I prefer to be a straight shooter and keep things simple by using the term “disabled person.” Other people choose alternative euphemisms to avoid saying that. While I know some people genuinely embrace words other than “disabled” – even some people who actually have disability – I just can’t get on board with that.
Of course, I can’t presume to speak for another other than myself, and everyone should have the right to choose how to refer to themselves as long as they don’t impose it upon anyone else. However, when non-disabled people try to dance around the word “disabled” in an effort to be more respectful, I don’t think they realize the hidden ableism behind the euphemisms. It demonstrates an assumption that “disabled” is a negative quality or derogatory word, when in fact, disabled is what I am. It is, in my opinion, the plainest, simplest, most straightforward, and least offensive way to refer to what my body can and cannot do.
So, next time you hesitate to say “disabled,” consider why I wish these four alternative terms would kick the bucket:
- Special needsTo read the rest of the article and find out why Emily (and most of the disability community) feel these words should bite the dust, go to the Center For Disability Rights