To what word am I referring? HANDICAPPED. What has triggered this reaction, one might ask? First let me say that I usually don’t walk around calling folks to task over their choice of language, even if I find it offensive. If it is not directed to me or those I am with at the time, I do not engage; in today’s world of hyper-triggering altercations and random acts of violence, I keep my own council. More importantly, I respect our rights to free speech.
The other day was an exception. A few friends and I, who all happen to be blind, were at a meeting along with others who were not visually impaired. The word was used, referring to us. Once the word was out, I found myself cutting the other person off, saying, “Please don’t use that word,”. Then the second person in the conversation used it and I said it again. I hope these two folks learn to eliminate it from their brains and speech references, I hope the H word is struck from our colloquialisms, like society has done with the N word. Furthermore, I do not identify with the H word, nor do most people with disabilities. While it is my opinion written in this blog, I realize folks might not realize just how insulting it is to be labeled by a word that means one is so impaired that one cannot take care of oneself or presents as having a disadvantage. That is not me nor is it the majority of the people living with disabilities. Am I splitting hairs? After reading the word origin, thanks to dictionary.com, I am even more confident the H word should remain as a betting reference
To be fair, I don’t hear it as much as I used to, like back in the 1990s, but there are still examples of eliminating the H word, like, “handicapped” parking signs.
In a perfect world, people with disabilities would not need to be singled out or pitied, but, since we live in a world of imperfections, why can’t we all dispense with the negative, stereotypic labels and adopt more respectful terminology for folks? Thanks for reading.
A rant from a person with a disability.