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May 1, 2017 | by  | in Can Do | [ssba]

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Language is powerful. It empowers and disempowers. It conjures thoughts and imagery that are associated or disassociated with people, ideas, and things. It builds bridges of understanding or burns them down to entrench misunderstanding.

It is no different when talking and thinking about disability.

Our understanding of disability is that it’s an inability to do certain things because of impairment(s). Disability, a limitation, is closely associated with the idea that the disabled person is unable; they are lacking (the ability to do things because of their disability).

We contrast disability with standards that “we” (society) perceive as benchmarks of “normality” and “health”, without acknowledging the person in their own context. To have a disability, where you fall short of these health benchmarks, is to be unhealthy.

Disability is seen as the antithesis of health. And we disassociate from disability and, by extension, from the person.

Yet experiences of health and wellbeing are a fluctuating process. We all have our own health and ability struggles. Having a disability is to have a type of health and wellbeing need. Although we may struggle differently, we all experience some struggle over an ability or inability to do things.

To place a stigma on disability is to ignore our own struggles and the reality of human health. The stigmas associated with disability, which come from the language we employ and which generate our understanding, are false.

To give someone their due is to be fair to them. So give us our DUE: that, while we may be (D)isabled, which may mean we are (U)nable, we can be (E)nabled. To be enabled, like anyone else in society. is to be understood and included as a valued part of society. Towards this aim, everyone is able to contribute. Where will you start?


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