The article “Becoming dis-human: thinking about the human through disability” by Daniel Goodley and Katherine Runswick-Cole addresses one huge issue when it comes to “disability” the word itself is very problematic. They address this issue through four considerations. These considerations being: “(1) dis/autonomy, voice and evacuating the human individual; (2) dis/independence, assemblage and collective humanness; (3) dis/ability politics, self-advocacy and repositioning the human; and (4) dis/family: desiring the normal, embracing the non-normative.”. I thought about a lot while reading this article and I kept in mind the prompt question “what would it mean for you to engage in this kind of “troubling” norms?”. Unfortunately, I do engage in these norms every day. I say the word disability whenever describing someone who is differently abled from the norm. This means that I take part in these troubling norms every day. Of course, I would never think that people with “disabilities” are less human than I am. I don’t think anyone who uses the term believes that, but it is in the language. We have seen over and over again how important language can be. The way we word things can affect perspectives, opinions, and it can imply things even unintentionally. The prefix “dis” is often associated with being “anti” or “not” so by saying “disabled” is basically saying “not able” which cannot be further from the truth. Many people who are classified as “disabled” are just as able as the average person.
Of course, all of this got me thinking about what would be a better alternative to the word “disability”, and I honestly could not think of one. I thought perhaps “differently abled” would be less offensive but then I realized that it’s still implying that they are different than others. Plus, being “different” has been known to put a target on someones back for harassment or bullying. I brainstormed for a few more minutes and decided that it’s best not to label people at all. We have seen from our history that labels have never resulted in anything good, all labels are discriminatory. So it’s important not to take part in any of these narratives.
From this perspective, my view of “disability” is completely altered. I had never really considered how the word disability might make others feel. Saying a person is “disabled” is labelling a person and telling them that they are less able than everyone else. When I see the words disability as a way of calling someone dis/human it is really upsetting. I now see it as a way to discriminate against others. I don’t believe that the word disability is meant to be derogatory, I think it was meant as a way to identify whether or not someone could require extra help, for example handicapped parking spaces. Handicapped parking spaces are not called handicapped for the purpose of being offensive they are just meant to help out those who might need it. That being said it doesn’t mean that it is okay to label people. Moving forward I think that I have to be very careful with the way I word things because even if they aren’t intentionally offensive they can still imply something durogatory. I also encourage everyone else to make sure that they are not doing the same thing.