Disabled, Differently-abled or Super-Abled?

I once had an argument with a friend, whom the most of society would recognize as being disabled, about the acceptable terminology for someone like her. She didn’t seem to mind being called disabled,  and I wasn’t buying it.  

I argued that we all have different disabilities and abilities. It’s just that society expects that we  be somewhere around most common standard.  She said she knows the arguments, but some just preferred to be identified as disabled.  

Those were the thoughts running through my mind as I watched this wonderful Ted Talk by the beautiful Aimee Mullins, who’s dozen pair of legs give her super abilities. A must watch.

That shattered some barriers.

— Deane.

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Posted on 04/20/2009, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Mithila Mangedarage

    I think I had a short discussion with you on the same grounds too Deane. I too questioned the necessity to adapt into a set of politically correct terms. I have since grown and understand that supra-liberal,”question everything” ideologies that were fueled by 80’s anarchist punk music, do not work exactly the way you expect, and politically correctness is there for a reason. And I agree with you about what I disagreed upon, about a year back.

    However, I still question the necessity to deeply analyze (“anal-yze” as I sometimes call it) the literal meanings of these “words”. My question is, this urge to seek for “super capabilities”, being able to do things a “normal” person can’t do, suggest a sense of insecurity to me, an inability to deal with the present . Of course she is an inspirational woman who teaches us all a lesson, in harnessing your full capabilities irrespective of what you were given at birth. But I’d rather look upto an independent individual who realizes their current condition, and appreciate themselves for who they are and be realistic in a world with buildings that only have staircases and not ramps, and deal with it, nevermind trying to fly over them.

    Again, I am not disagreeing with you or saying that the woman in the video is not inspirational, I am just announcing this question I have about people insanely craving to be called a super-individual with capabilities unheard of. And again, I also understand this is a largely personal thing and different people have different comfortable zones and hence we have politically correctness to cater to all.

  2. I think it helps when we question the validity of the terms we use on things. Words and how human beings interpret them have a bearing on their perceptions and how they view things. and if our objective is to challenge and change certain perspectives, then I think challenging certain steroetypes and language we use is a good thing to do.

    I think the point of the video is to say that someone you would called ‘disabled’ and hence we are trained to looked-down upon or looked at with sympathy can be viewed differently or say ‘normally’. Some people can’t see well, some people are big, others short and some others don’t have feet. Just that most of us expect people to be a certain way. Sri Lankan buses don’t expect me to be 6 feet, but I have no problems in the US with leg space. Some people are so apart from the basic expected model, they find it difficult to fit in. and we call them disabled.

    There was a time when blacks were considered inferior, now this is not the case. We are seeing the same transformation with regards to homosexuals. It all happened due to a change of perspectives, things that were considered abnormal became normal, and with that, or directly feeding that process was the language we use on them.

  3. semantics matter..wrong words can change the entire meaning of your feelings…disabled is a person who is incapable of functioning but differently abled is someone who cant’ function one part of his body but can do other things…using either of them reflects your thoughts and views 🙂

  4. Semantics matter..wrong words can change the entire meaning of your feelings…disabled is a person who is incapable of functioning but differently abled is someone who cant’ function one part of his body but can do other things…using either of them reflects your thoughts and views 🙂

    Our perception comes to the fore with the words, phrases we use…at times words can fail our emotions but then…

    We see politicians getting all sorts of jibes because of the words they use…they might or might not mean it! but its also on others as they might perceive it differently!

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