Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Redefining Disability Project: Post #20

Happy St. Patrick's Day y'all.
Time for me to answer another question.

Do you have preferred language when it comes to disability? — There is a lot of debate about appropriate language and definitions of disability

Personally, I think there is a lot of hoop-de-la about titling. Disabled, physically challenged, visually challenged, handicapable, or whatever, it all means the same thing...there is something you can not do that others can and it impact your daily life significantly. All to be politically correct or someone might not be offended? Depending on the era, persons of color were called negro, then black, and now African-American. I'm not being racist here because I am a person of color also...yellow. I don't call myself a Japanese- American. I'm just an American. So I have a different skin tone than my neighbor. So what? This is America the Great Melting Pot or should I say Melding Pot because it took many nationalities to make up this country.
[stepping down from my soapbox now]

As far as me being disabled, it's true, but so are millions if not billions of others. The
definition of a disability to me, as I said above, is not being able to do something other can. Does it take a national decree to make me disabled? Nope. I know I'm disabled. The government decides who qualifies as disabled when you try to get benefits. I was denied. Does that mean I am not disabled? Nope, because I still have many things I can't do that others can by my definition.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not as disabled as many. I still can and do most things. Does doing these things create hardship, endanger me, and other wise frustrate the Dickens out of me while I figure out a way to do it (sometimes taking months or years)...yep. You better believe it. That happens when you have brain cells damaged by a stroke or in my case, strokes and paralyzing one side of your body.

But think about it another way,with government intervention, a person has a fear of snakes like me. Just the thought of snake paralyzes them into a catatonic state. Isn't that also a disability? No,
you say because that isn't an every day occurrence that you are faced with snakes. What if they were a snake charmer? Where handling and seeing snakes was their occupation. [getting to willies!] Well, yes, it's a disability, but they could find another job. There is the kicker with the government's intervention in defining disability.

As far as what I'd like to be called about my disability...I like the term handicapable. That is, if I HAVE to be labeled to fit in some group or other. I ain't dead yet. Many things have tried to kill me off, but it's not my time yet. I've spent my whole life busting stereotypes and groups being an abby normal type person. I really don't like them. It's too neat and tidy. Life is anything but neat and tidy. Not everyone fits in one box or other.

Another term I've heard lately is "Differently Abled." I really like this. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses some are just more visible than others. I'll bet I can write faster and clearer than any other righty with their left hand. I'll bet there isn't a knitter, who is not disabled, is able to tie a knot in their work in progress to change colored yarn faster than me with one hand. Does that single me out and make me extra special. Of course it does. It makes me differently abled. Not they couldn't do it with practice, they could but they don't have to. That's my whole point. Until you are faced with living in my shoes and facing my challenges, you don't know what you are able to do.

When all else fails...try twisted logic.


  1. The only label I object to is victim.

  2. Hi Jo - it is difficult as we've grown used to using disabled ... and to adapt to something different and find the right word is not easy. However some disabled people are distinctly more abled than I am ... very capable as they've overcome their challenges in hugely inspiring ways.

    I'm inspired by all who help themselves ... it's us - who need to realise that there's always a reason for something - eg they struggle to speak or find a word .. perhaps they've had a mini stroke ... I try and relate to the person, or people in front of me ... not easy.

    Good luck and all the best - Hilary

  3. As a writer, I'm a bit obsessed with words and their implications, even the subtle ones. Sometimes for me, it comes down to the simplest way to say what I want. In the case of having been limited by a stroke, I prefer "disabled." I once heard my husband call me "semi-paralyzed" explaining my condition to someone; when I first came home, he told everyone I'd had a "severe" stroke. The former was okay by me, but I objected to the latter because although I got walloped, what HAPPENED was less important than what I was able to do. Plus, there's the whole size competition among stroke survivors (you know it - to hear them, most survivors had a "massive" stroke. Bah!).

  4. Barb,
    I actually had two little strokes that did a whole lot of damage. lol Yes, it is more important than what you can't do.


I love to hear from you! Agree, Disagree, Indifferent...no matter. Even if it's to say you were here.