Last week, for Memoir Monday and the
Redifining Disability Awareness Challenge,
I discussed how others sometimes treat me differently in a situation such as dating:
As a bit of a continuation today, I will be addressing that most complicated subject of labels, language, and stereotyping, which can affect us in all areas of life with disability.
Q: Do you have preferred language when it comes to disability?
There is a lot of debate about appropriate language and definitions of disability. Since there’s no widespread agreement, I want to hear as many views as possible.
A: I read an overview, a summary of the newly updated Ontario Sex Ed curriculum on a fellow blogger’s post titled:
The sky is (not actually) falling!
Now this is just for the province I live in here in Canada, but I thought it was rather interesting to include here, as a reference point.
This post is not about sex ed, as much as it is the fact that there is some mention of disability in there.
I often wonder, in my ever-present modest way, what my classmates from years past thought about having me in their class and how it has…well, perhaps “shaped” is too strong a word, but perhaps not.
But how have they taken that experience and used it when coming across people since, is what I really am curious about.
Along with teaching children about names of body parts, what’s considered good andbad touching, and what to expect during puberty I am focusing here on the newer stuff.
times have changed. Yes, Ontario, it was about time for an update.
Times have changed as far as technology.
Of course not that much has really changed, not underneath the surface.
There were always people of different sexual orientations and abilities. Now is being talked about more openly.
Things like race, religion, gender, and alike are all important, but the things we’re just now getting around to talking about, in any real way, for the first time are coming to the forefront.
It’s only in the last thirty years, really, that children with any significant disability were included in their neighbourhood schools. I am glad I was one of them.
We need to see people of all abilities to grow more comfortable with them, not tuck them away in schools all their own.
(Of course this is just my opinion.)
What’s easiest and seems most obvious is not always what’s best.
To face the definitions, stereotypes, and such we need to put it all out there, to face the discomfort head-on.
I am glad disability is listed in the sex ed curriculum because not every class has a student who is blind in it. I don’t know if having me in their class all those years made any lasting impression or if it affects how they approach things as adults, but I really would like to think so, for a more inclusive society.
I know the subject of what to call someone with a disability is a touchy one. The world clings to labels.
I mentioned this recent development in my province’s curriculum because I suppose I find it easier than talking about the rest of what this week’s question asks.
I have many conversations, particularly with someone who is just losing his sight now.
We talk about what words to use and when to use or not use them.
PWD’s (people with disabilities) is the term he uses and I think of POW’s (prisoners of war) whenever I hear that. Just where my mind goes.
It feels like some strange war of the words sometimes. I don’t know which side I am on, from day to day.
Have a sense of humour, I tell myself. Life can’t always be a fight or a battle. That’s no life to be living.
Why, then, do I have so many conflicted feelings on the whole thing?
I am blind. That is established, but then why do I prefer to use such terms as “visually impaired”?
After all, I don’t like the word “impaired” either.
I guess “blind” is just so blunt and to-the-point, which I am not always very comfortable being.
I feel shame when I use one term over the other. I hate that.
Definitions of Disabled:
It’s like I’m a bomb to be “disabled”, before I go off and devastate everything around me.
Okay, so that’s just me being dramatic and drastic, but that is how complicated this question can be, when I think too much about it, but I believe it is a valid question.
I know, and so do you, some of those words that just aren’t socially acceptable to use in 2015 that once were used with impunity.
Whose to say they are wrong? Where do we draw the line?
I try to answer this question and am left with just as many questions of my own to ask.
I can’t make up my mind and don’t know if I ever will.
Okay, so this week, my answer may seem incomplete. That’s just how it goes I guess.
All I do know is that I feel helpless, unless I am writing here or participating in such things as what I participated in on Feb 20th.
And then a group of over 1000 bloggers and like-minded writers, artists, and others all wrote about compassion.
Reflections On 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion
I can only hope for compassion from others, not pity.
Only that people think before they speak and have the best intent behind their words, no matter what they are.
And as for myself…I need to feel less shame, find balance in life, and to remember to smile and laugh about how funny and complicated life really is.
Have you ever felt uncomfortable with the language someone was using, about anybody? Did you ever not know how to talk around someone, in fear of offending them?
I ask because I never want to take life so seriously that others are afraid to speak to me or feel they must walk on eggshells around me. That’s not living.
Next week I will be away, off on some adventures.
I will be back the Monday after that to speak on any old subject involving this topic that I can think of…and believe me, there are several I have wanted to speak about.
So stay tuned.
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