Everyone has words they hate, or names they hate being called. As a person with a disability, there are words that are considered “hateful” and “not politically correct”. Each person with a disability has a different opinion to what they prefer. To me, “physically challenged” is offensive, however, “crippled” has no effect on me, but to a lot of people, it’s the worst. Here are some explanations for phrases and words common in our society that people with disabilities consider confine them to their disability.
Wheelchair-Bound: This one is the biggest NO. It’s just misleading. We can leave our wheelchairs. I don’t sleep in my wheelchair, I can sit on the couch, in a car, in a booth at a restaurant. We’re not tied to our wheelchairs. They’re simply used as legs.
Confined to a Wheelchair: see above. But also, would you like to be confined to anything? Are we prisoners?
Crippled: I don’t have a problem with it when used in the right context, but it can be used as in a derogatory way, and many of us aren’t frail as porcelain china as the word makes us sound.
Inspirational: This one is purely situational. There’s a difference between inspirational and inspiration porn. We draw inspiration from a lot of places. But if you’re making yourself feel good by doing something out of pity for a person with a disability (i.e. the prom proposals from “able bodied” teens to their “disabled” classmates) that’s inspiration porn. There’s a fine line and society loves inspiration porn. (This topic will be discussed at length in another post this month)
Special: What. Makes. Us. Special? Most of us just want to be treated equal. We’re no better or worse. We don’t poop rainbows and definitely don’t feel special most of the time when addressed as such.
Warrior: I’m not aiming this at parents of children with disabilities. But please, please, please think of your child when calling them this. You may think you’re helping their confidence and making them feel better. But many, many, many of my friends with disabilities think this does more harm than good and it was a common word brought up when asking what to write for this. . Yes, we experience a lot. But EVERY HUMAN experiences pain. Someone’s level 10 pain, could be our level 3 pain. It doesn’t mean that person’s level 10 pain isn’t valid.
Gimp: Another word I don’t mind hearing and I don’t hear often (except between my friends with disabilities) I guess it’s like the black community having names for each other. It’s not allowed by anyone other than a person with a disability. I don’t hear it often enough to have more of an opinion, there’s just a derogatory nature about it, and there are WAY better words.