Today I was tagged on Twitter by Someone’s Mum to share my thoughts on her recent post. I was responding via Twitter and then realise I didn’t just have a little something to say on the matter, but something much bigger. And this is where my post began. Firstly I’d like to say that this is a beautifully written piece, and 100% spot on.

The language of words is utterly powerful, but peoples connotations of said words is part of the problem. I am disabled, but that is not all of who I am it’s a part of me just as my size is.

I use the adjective freely, because that is what it is; describing a part of me. People get far too caught up in the semantics of words, it’s literarily and linguist Dick meaning, but we as a society, we as the world need to educate one another. What one person might prefer to be called, might be different to that of another, but it doesn’t change The definition of the word, only people’s interpretation of it.

The dictionary definition of the word disabled is:
1(Of a person) having a physical or mental condition that limits their movements, senses, or activities.
Which is clear cut, clinical and unemotional.

However, it still does not mean that people who are disabled are defined by its semantics and that only.It does however, mean that we fit into a category and description of a word.
Society choose not to use these words in fear of offending someone, yet these are the words that describe and define a part of who we are.
Words describe something, someone, a place, or a feeling: yet the same words are broken into sub sections, or collectives such as; nouns,pronouns and adjectives.
We don’t fear such connotations or literal meaning of the word capable, so why is the word disabled seen as negative?

We see the word disabled, and associate it with failure, DIS a Latin prefix meaning “apart,” “asunder,” “away,” “utterly,” or having a privative, negative, or reversing force (see de-, un-2.); used freely, especially with these latter senses, as an English formative:
disability; disaffirm; disbar; disbelief; discontent; dishearten; dislike; disown.

Inherently we believe it’s a negative , as a society were told its a negative. Semantics tell us it’s a negative.

So how do I as a disabled person encourage you to ignore The semantics and stereotypes, while taking into account the person who has the disability?

I continue with life, face the barriers and obstacles put in my path and bulldoze through them. You are a human, I am a human. Humans show compassion and empathy towards one another. What I ask is that you are vigilant of my disability, do not discriminate or undermine my capabilities, but trust and have faith that with the right support, Technology and education I too can achieve the same things you can. I may take the long way round, I may look strange when doing so, but fundamentally I am human, I am just like you.

9 comments on “Semantics of The Word Disabled”

  1. Great post. I am touched that my words inspired you to write it! You are so right that acknowledging and allowing for disability – while not getting dragged down my negative associations – it a really difficult thing to pull off. Hopefully, if we all keep talking about it, we’ll live in a society where it can be achieved universally one day.

  2. Well said! 🙂 I find you inspiring. I’m glad your disability hasn’t brought you down (Is that what it’s called?) Even writing those words I wonder if I’m saying or using the wrong words? You are a young beautiful woman with her whole life ahead of her. I am glad that you know you can achieve anything. As they say, the world is indeed your oyster 🙂 xx

  3. What a lovely post.
    It saddens me that even in this day and age, we are striving for equality, inclusivity and people are still judged on their physical state.
    You’re right. We are all human. None of us are perfect and we all have our own struggles.
    I am over the moon you’re so confident and don’t let things stand in your way. If I had a child with a disability, I would want them to be just like that. Everyone can achieve.

  4. Language is such a contentious issue – I think for so many people these days we hesitate to speak for fear of saying the wrong thing and causing offence. I love your last paragraph – we’re all human and we are all capable of achieving great things, and compassion and empathy are the things that the human race should be most proud of, that set us apart from so many other species on this planet.

  5. i have a disability but I don’t consider myself disabled, I have so much more to offer than that and although it tries to hinder me, I won’t let it! lovely post!

  6. Very well said. I worked in social care for many years and have heard so many different ways of trying to say something to make it sound like it wont offend someone. My toddler has additional needs and everyone else seems scared to say it, apart from us. we know she has some difficulties but they don’t define her they are just part of who she is . xx

  7. Agreed, it should not be considered a taboo to be called disabled because that is very much a part of your makeup. In fact celebrate being different and your right there is no one correct definition of disability, it can be mental, physical and both x Well thought out post lovely and it is so nice to read your posts even at 12.11 am lol

  8. Powerful post, it so important to remember that we are all human, sometimes we need a little reminder which shouldn’t have to happen in this day and age but sadly is required. Thanks for making me think.

  9. A thoughtful post, I admire your spirit and agree we are all human. I do have negative connotations when I hear “disabled” and I try not to use it – rightly/wrongly when referencing my daughter only because when I heard “disabled” it meant “unable” as in “never will” and I hate limitations being placed on my daughter . She may take a different route to accomplish something but she’s gets there! Perhaps my use of the word disabled will change over time as I continue on this new journey. Lovely blog I think one of my favs now xx

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