So, I have been loosely following the olympics, as I am sure many of you also have been, and I was watching as Alexandre Bilodeau won the ski moguls to become the first Canadian to win a medal inside the country's borders. The reporters kept saying how exciting this was for Canada and how close Bilodeau was to his little brother with cerebral palsy. The reporters continued focusing on Frederic Bilodeau, but what caught my attention is how they kept saying he was "suffering with cerebral palsy" and how he was "confined to a wheelchair."
Suffering? Confined? Are these really words we should be associating with disability? I've heard other phrases such as "wheelchair bound" and "that person is stricken with..." or "a victim of..." Some people even continue to use terms such as dumb, slow, gimp, midget, mentally retarded, cripple, and so on.
By using these terms we are disabling others. If someone is disabled, who has the right to say they are "suffering"? Or if someone is a wheelchair user, he or she is certainly not "bound" to it.
I think sometimes we don't realize how powerful the words we use actually are and the impact they have on people. By using terms with negative connotations we are oppressing others and I think we need to learn how to speak in such a way that is positive and respectful.
Language and disABILITY is something I am very interested in, so if anybody has any information on where I can learn more, I would definitely appreciate it!
Don't forget about the meeting tonight in Duffy 219 @ 8:30!