Language is POWERFUL! And YES, it definitely matters.
Language is a fundamental part of our human connection and it shapes the way we think, perceive and interact with the world around us and others.
The words we use to communicate and, and the way we use them, can have a profound impact on our relationships, our culture, the workplace and ultimately the inclusion of others within society as a whole.
What language to use is often the first hurdle in overcoming the path forward in disability inclusion and because of the existence of ableism, fear and stigma of the unknown it can leave some speechless.
“Can I say disability?”
Yes! It is absolutely okay to use the words disabled, disability, people with disabilities, disabled person, etc.
The key is opening the door to a conversation and discovering one’s personal preference with sincerity. So address that too.
The reality is language inspires, persuades, unites, divides, empowers, belittles, and or excludes. The key is understanding this.
Being mindful, respectful and inclusive in the language we choose when engaging is very important without allowing ableism or the fear of the unknown stop us from learning something new and progressing as a whole.
This testimony I received on Friday from a client may seem simple to you or it may not, but it has been my lived experience my entire life. People have been “tiptoeing” around the word disability which means they are “tiptoeing” around a piece of who I am as a human from the day I was born.
Validation today, I receive happily and I hope it motivates you to push forward the conversation with those you meet.
ID: Testimonial sent to Alycia that reads: Hi Alycia. Happy Friday! I wanted to share with you that, because of your speech and message at the conference, I’ve started using the word “disability” when speaking to teachers and parents. This is something new for me because, like many people, I was tip toe-ing around the word, not realizing that’s actually perpetuating the negative stigma around disabilities.