Did you know that around 15% of the world’s population live with some
form of disability? Still, ableist language is prevalent in everyday
vocabulary and you may be using derogatory phrases that reveal prejudice
against people who are disabled.
Why should I care?
Well, because ableism has become so normalized, many people use ableist language without second thought. Oftentimes these phrases are used without the intention to hurt others as well as without awareness of their implications, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any damage.
It is also important to remember that many of these words are not slurs or “bad” words on their own. The issue arises when they are used liberally in a way that perpetuates negative stereotypes and diminishes the original meaning or intended use. Reducing real people to their disabilities and equating that to something negative minimizes their experience as human beings. By inserting disabilities in metaphors, we contribute to the broader systems of oppression.
The first step (and a big one) is realizing when ableist language is being used and learning how to replace it with more accurate terms.