Redefining Boundaries and Extending Horizons
Edited By Shridevi Rao and Maya Kalyanpur
A Note on Language and Terminology
The language and terminology used to denote disability have undergone significant shifts over the last few decades. No longer is the issue of terminology merely a choice of technicalities; it is inextricably linked to notions of identity, humanity, and personhood. However, at the same time, it is also an issue fraught with contradictions. The discourse on language within the US has favored the use of Person First language such as “people with disabilities.” Many disability rights advocates as well as scholars in the US have acknowledged this convention as one that recognizes the humanity and unique identity of the individual first and then the disability. However, the discourse in the UK has tended to favor the use of the term “disabled.” Rooted within the social model, the conversation on disability semantics in the UK has drawn attention to the need to consciously adopt language that underscores the ways in which disability is created through the systemic exclusion and oppression of people with disabilities through policies and practice. The term “disabled” is preferred as it puts the onus for the construction of disability squarely on society and societal practices. In contrast to the way this term is viewed within the US, the use of the term “disabled” is not seen as one that communicates disability as a characteristic that is intrinsic to the person. Furthermore, recently, the neurodiversity movement in the US has called for the celebration of the identity of disability. Thus within this context, some self-advocates with autism reject...
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