TERMINOLOGY AND ATTITUDES
Disability terminology has been the subject of much debate among the disability community.Language isn’t just a matter of etiquette, it can be a means of oppression.
What is Disability? It is helpful to understand the difference between two terms that are in common usage:
- Impairment is a functional limitation, such as difficulty in walking or seeing;
- Disability is the resulting loss of opportunity to participate on equal terms with people who do not have impairments. This is due to physical and attitudinal barriers in society.
"People with Disabilities” or “Disabled People" ?
For those who use “people with disabilities” the importance lies in putting the word “people” first.
Those who use “disabled people” point out that this term is in line with the social model of disability. They use comparisons with other minority groups, for example, the accepted term is “black people” not “people who are black”.
Regardless of whether they use “disabled people” or “people with disabilities”, most empowerment-based organisations now operate from the perspective of the social model of disability.