DEFIN­ING DIS­ABIL­ITY

EDGE - - MINDS AND BODIES -

As a le­gal term and in com­mon us­age, ‘dis­abil­ity’ has been made to cover a wide range of very dif­fer­ent con­di­tions. Could the broad­ness of the term be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive, or is it use­ful to treat many kinds of peo­ple un­der one la­bel? “I much pre­fer the word ‘dis­abil­ity’ to the word ‘dis­abled’ as even though it is a broad def­i­ni­tion I feel like it is one that is more ac­cu­rate,” com­ments Flip­book Pro­duc­tions di­rec­tor Mo­hammed Hos­sain. “I feel like the word ‘dis­abled’ is a bit more de­mean­ing, as tech­ni­cally it means you are not func­tion­ing, whereas to ‘have a dis­abil­ity’ still means that you can func­tion and be the same per­son as it were. This was one of my cam­paigns at univer­sity.” Olivia White ar­gues that while it’s im­por­tant that peo­ple un­der­stand the dif­fer­ence be­tween dis­abil­i­ties, the term ‘dis­abil­ity’ re­mains use­ful. “It’s blunt, up front, and it’s some­thing that a lot of nondis­abled peo­ple have tried to change over the years, de­cid­ing it’s ‘of­fen­sive’ and pre­fer­ring things like ‘dif­fer­ently-abled’. This is non­sense. My dis­abil­ity is a dis­abil­ity. It’s a dis­ad­van­tage. It holds me back. Pre­tend­ing oth­er­wise just pre­vents me from get­ting the sup­port I need.”

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