No one chooses disability. The only choice in disability is to adapt—not in spite of it, but because we deserve to live as well as possible. In a world where popular culture is at our fingertips, be it through the internet, social media, the big screen or tv – we are at information overload. Unfortunately, the information being received isn’t always accurate and is often times hurtful.
There is a pervasive belief in our society that disabled people are too much work, are burdens, and that we don’t like ourselves or our bodies. Popular culture upholds this falsehood while often showing only one type of disabled body— a white male wheelchair user. In the shows we watch whose characters face potential disabilities, we are confronted not with how to best help someone cope, but rather a concern of how they will ever overcome this tragedy. Films like Me Before You and Million Dollar Baby send the message that disabled bodies are inconvenient and not worth living in.
The “twitter-verse” is an endless platform for both good and not-so-good. Not a day goes by without a viral news story of something derogatory – usually ending in an apology and hopefully a lesson learned. We can change the culture surrounding disability by watching the language we use. The words “stupid,” “crazy,” “idiot” and “retard” carry negative connotations for disabled people, so we should phase them out of our vocabularies and replace them with other words (I use “wild” as a placeholder for many of them).
The disability community does not discriminate; it’s one of the only communities that anyone can join at any point in their life, regardless of race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status and body. If you can’t care enough about the people already in the disability community to end ableist language, stop using it because you could someday be a member of our community—someone who is consistently told your life is a burden or inconvenience.
People make mistakes and that’s okay. Mistakes lead to lessons learned and lessons lead to growth. Apologize. Forgive. Commit to being a better you every day.
The full article can be found at the link below:
[image description: The word disability with the beginning letters dis crossed out, leaving the word ability]