If you read the blog I posted last week, you may have noticed (with some irritation) that I repeatedly used the rather clunky phrase ‘people with a disability.’
Why not just say ‘disabled people’ you might think. Well, my choice of wording was deliberate.
When we refer to someone as being ‘disabled’ or ‘disfigured’, we are effectively defining them by their condition, when in fact it is only one part of a complex, multidimensional being.
That is why I insist on saying that someone (such as myself) has a disability or a disfigurement. In fact, I have both a disability (hearing loss) and a disfigurement (cleft), but neither condition defines me.
My hearing disability, for example, presents a challenge only in some aspects of my life, while being completely irrelevant in others.
Similarly, my disfigurement (a concept that I take issue with, by the way, and which I will address at length in a future blog post) is limited to just a part of me. I am more than my cleft.
As I’ve said before, words have power; they can enable and disable people, which is why it matters a great deal how we choose or words.