Re: FWD (DS) Re: The M [Mongoloid] word and idiot

From: J. Goard (
Date: Fri Jun 30 2000 - 20:17:53 MDT

Crap, sorry Terry. Don't know why I left your name on that reply. <SMACK>

At 06:27 PM 6/30/00 -0700, Terry W. Colvin wrote:
>Forwarded from the Down Syndrome mailing list:
>from < >
>One of the changes that comes with person centered values is "Person First
>Language". Unfortunately, people are still debating about some parts of
>person first language.
>At one time, people with disabilities were referred to as "patients" or by
>their disability ("epileptic"). Today, people involved with disabilities see
>these as kind of rude labels because they tend to depersonalize someone into
>a stereotype and imply that the person is passive. In the 1950's people in
>human services began using the term "client" instead. Some people object to
>"client" because it implies a lower social or educational status for the
>person with a disability compared to the service provider. Many people use
>the term "consumer", but some people also object to it because it implies
>someone who consumes and uses up resources. Some groups are using the term
>"customer", to be part of the popular movement towards customer service and
>satisfaction. But even this term has people that object to it, who point out
>that people getting rehabilitation services do not purchase the services;
>the taxpayers or employers pay for it.
>The term "disabled people" or "the disabled" also has problems, since it
>suggests that their disability is the person's defining feature. Remember
>the first principle of person centered values? People can have a disability
>without being the disability. Labels that focus on limitations can be
>self-fulfilling - if someone thinks they are limited by their disability,
>they may give up and not even try new things. Because of this, a person can
>think they are more "disabled" than they truly are.
>In general, we should try to focus on the person and see both disabilities
>and abilities from their point of view, instead of from a medical definition
>or stereotype.
>from < >
>The language a society uses is reflective of its values. The term
>handicapped literally means cap in hand, a term coined during a time when
>society envisioned people with disabilities as only being capable of begging
>for a living. Times and our language have changed.
>People with disabilities prefer to be referred to with language that
>respects their humanity, abilities, talents and values. Person-first
>language recognizes a person's right to self esteem and to be addressed as a
>person first and not as disability. Referring to individuals with
>disabilities as "the disabled", creates an image of a homogeneous and
>unusual group of persons. Terms such as these can be dehumanizing and
>perpetuate negative stereotypes about people with disabilities.
>from < >
>The only label a person needs is their name. Instead of labels, think of ALL
>people in terms of their strengths and abilities.
>People with disabilities are "People First" and want the same things in life
>as people who don't have disabilities. All too often their gifts and
>abilities are not appreciated because our society has focused on their
>disability. Their disability is only part of who they are-not WHO they are.
>How many of us want to be described only in terms of the things we cannot
>do? Our language reflects our attitudes toward diversity. A first step to
>changing attitudes is changing the way we speak about people.
>Labels are extremely powerful. Don't let a person's disability become his
>label. Say "student who has a disability" rather than a "disabled student."
>It makes the student more important than the disability!
>from < >
>I believe many forces are to blame for inappropriate language. For instance,
>many people see or hear terms such as 'handicapped parking' and assume that
>it's okay in everyday speech. Others were raised during a time when
>'cripple' and 'invalid' were considered proper terminology. More recently,
>we have the PC, or politically correct, movement. It was PC that gave us
>jewels such as 'handicapable', 'differently abled' and the ever-popular
>'physically challenged'. It's funny - I don't remember being a part of the
>committee that voted yes to these.
>Last, and certainly least, we have many members of the disability community
>itself who care little about what they're called. Many individuals tell me
>"you can't take that stuff too seriously" or "what difference does it make?"
>Sadly, perhaps in an attempt to show society that they're not bitter, they
>sell us out.
>The importance of using person-first language can hardly be stressed enough.
>Placing the person before the wheelchair, cane or speech difficulty
>accomplishes two things. First, by stressing the person, it emphasizes inner
>qualities that anyone might have, and de-emphasizes physical appearance. It
>also normalizes the disability by sending the subtle message that a
>disability can happen to anyone. Compare that to 'wheelchair person' which
>has sort of a space-alien feel to it.
>Language affects attitudes. Legislation defending the rights of the
>disability community might be easier to enforce if everyone saw the person
>The phrase 'everyone's disabled in some way' should not be excused either.
>This is an error in logic known as equivocation, or the changing of a term's
>definition in midstream. One minute, we're referring to a disability such as
>blindness; the next minute we're equating it to forgetfulness, or being 20
>pounds overweight. The person who does this usually finds the disability
>intimidating. Reducing the seriousness of the disability makes it easier to
>So, what can a person with a disability do against the formidable foes of
>assertiveness and patience. When someone you meet uses inappropriate
>language, do you politely correct them, or do you accept their ignorance and
>confusion as excuses? If you do correct them, do you explain why it's
>Every time a person refrains from being assertive, they are, in effect,
>saying, "It doesn't really matter what you call me." Correcting someone may
>not be comfortable, but it's the right thing to do. If that person is
>secure, he or she will not react defensively. If they do, you must realize
>that it is not your problem.
>Any time members of a minority group speak out on an issue relating to them,
>they run the risk of being labelled as bitter, obsessed, maladjusted or
>hypersensitive. These labels are merely a sign of society's unease. Labels
>take the place of true understanding, while also discrediting the person
>presenting the issue.
>-- Rob Kocur
>other related websites:
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>Terry W. Colvin, Sierra Vista, Arizona (USA)
>< >
>Home Page: < >
>Sites: Fortean Times * Northwest Mysteries * Mystic's Cyberpage *
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J. Goard

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