Are disabled and disability bad words?

Are disabled and disability bad words?

Not at all! Disabled and disability are neutral terms that are used as descriptors.

Even though these words are neutral, they may feel weird to say out loud at first. You aren't alone in this feeling!

Historically, the societal norm of talking about disabilities is to not talk about them at all.

We are taught at a young age that we should not talk about disabilities directly. We are taught that instead of saying disabled, we should use euphemisms such as differently-abled or special needs.

Even though this is what we were taught at a young age, euphemisms are still common today. Unfortunately, there are still institutions of higher education and research firms that still use euphemisms for disability rather than simply saying disabilities. We have to collectively educate each other so that we can move away from using these euphemisms.

You may be wondering why language is so important here and whether or not this is worth the debate. Language is important because language sculpts culture. Language inevitably affects the way people perceive, communicate, and express ideologies.

By shying away from saying the words disabled or disability, there are a couple of harmful implications that are tacitly being made:

1. We should not talk about disabilities
If we do not say a word out loud, it is because it is taboo. Even if it isn't taboo, if we refrain from saying the word and find round about ways to address it, it eventually becomes taboo. This is because if we were allowed to openly talk about the subject, we would at the very least be able to address it directly.
2. Being disabled and disabilities are bad and/or shameful
Why else would people not say it? Being disabled is completely normal and, contrary to popular belief, quite common. There are more than 1 billion disabled people worldwide; that's 15% of the world! 
We need to say disabled out loud. We need to destigmatize disabilities. We need to have open, constructive conversations.
Have conversations with disabled people! Listen to the disabled community! Follow disabled creators! There is plenty to be learned and discussed. Don't be afraid to ask questions along the way, we are all learning as we go. The goal isn't to be right, the goal is to create a safe and accepting space for everyone. Achieving this goal requires time, effort, vulnerability, and humility.
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