Name Calling

In Features, Letters To The Editor, We Hear Ya! by Our Readers

Consider yourself “disabled?” Well, THAT may be a handicap!

Looking at me, you would not think there is anything wrong.with me. OK, I wear glasses, but I have also been on medication for epilepsy for over 20 years, and it’s been about 10 or 11 years since my last seizure (a word that sounds a lot better than “fit” or even “attack” that I have seen in newspapers and magazines over the years).

Anyway, I don’t consider myself to be “disabled”, nor do I think anyone who is deaf, blind, diabetic, epileptic, or has multiple sclerosis or anything similar to be “disabled”.

“WHAT?!” “Is this guy crazy?!” “WHY?” “Has this bloke lost his marbles?” I can hear you saying all these – and many more – things.

Well, there is one very good reason; as far as I’m concerned, what we have are “impairments”. You never hear of someone who is blind described as having a “visual disability” or a deaf person described as having a “hearing disability” – now, do you?! No, of course not. They are described as having a “visual impairment” or a “hearing impairment” – aren’t they? Therefore, in my opinion, what we have are “impairments”.

Far be it from me to say that I’m the first person to suggest this – but if it’s good enough for the World Health Organisation, I think it’s good enough for us.

The WHO says that an “impairment” is what people have, and a “disability” is what prevents people from doing what they should.

While I’m not expecting this magazine to change its slogan as a result of what I have written – unless someone can come up with something! – maybe we can change the way we describe ourselves, and not use such a negative word in the future!
Martyn Stankler
Leeds, UK subscriber