Saturday, June 21, 2014

Two Takes on Terminology: Supplemental

Here’s an appropriate TED Talk to go with the post below. TED Talks have become kind of annoying, but every now and then a really good, relevant one comes along.

Two Takes on Terminology

Girl With The Cane - June 21, 2014

Smart Ass Cripple - June 19, 2014

At first glance, these two articles on disability terminology seem like they might be very similar. Read them through and you will find they are quite different. And yet, think about it again, and you’ll find they both grapple with the same phenomenon. While words like "disability" are seen by a lot of people as negative, there is also something deceptive and grimy about the supposedly positive alternatives people try to use ... like "differently abled" and "physically challenged".

I suspect that the root of the conflict is that people have radically different understandings of language itself. For some, words mean what they appear to mean, their meanings are fixed, and that's it. For others, words' meanings evolve, words mean different things to different people, and we can shape what words mean … especially when they are meant to describe our own experiences.

The debates will probably go on forever, and maybe that's okay. It's another way for us to deepen our understanding of disability ... whatever you want to call it.