Language is critical in shaping and reflecting our thoughts, beliefs, feelings and concepts. The language people use reflects what they think and to a large extent, influences how they deal with situations.
Negative word is a barrier to understanding the reality of disability. In recent years disabled people have claimed individual and collective rights and sought to change their circumstances in part by changing the words used to describe them. There are however differences in opinion as to the propriety in the use of some words and expressions.
‘PERSON WITH DISABILITY’ AND ‘DISABLED PERSON’
Some people prefer to use the term ‘person with disability’ because they believe an individual with a disabling condition is a ‘person first’ before the disability.
However, others rejects the term ‘person with disability’ as it implies that the disabling effect rests within the individual person (rather than from external influences).
ASK BEFORE YOU HELP
Just because someone has impairment, does not mean the person needs help. If the setting is accessible, disabled persons can usually get around fine.
Disabled adults want to be treated as independent people. Offer assistance only if the person appears to need it. A disabled person will oftentimes communicate when help is needed. If the person does want help, ask how before you act.
Some disabled persons depend on their arms for balance .Grabbing them, even if your intention is to assist, could knock them off balance. Avoid putting a person on the head or touching his wheelchair or cane.
Disabled persons consider their equipment part of their personal space.
Always speak directly to the disabled person, not to his companion, aide or sign language interpreter.
DON’T MAKE ASSUMPTIONS
Disabled persons are the best judge of what they can and cannot do. Don’t make decisions for them about participating in any activity. Depending on the situation, it could be a violation of law to exclude people because of a presumption about their limitation.