People try to rename disability as “disABILITY”, handicaps as “handiCAPABLE”, and both as “differently abled”. Of the three, the latter is the only one I don’t find utterly stupid (and borderline offensive!).
I’m sorry, but a disability is a disability, and a handicap is a handicap. If you look at what those words actually mean, and not what the average Joe thinks they mean, then they’re apt.
“Disability”; some aspect of that person is disabled, whether it be a physical or mental function. Think about a machine; it may have five functions, and one or more of them may be disabled. It just means “turned off”, “paused”, “not currently functioning”, “not functioning to full capacity”. It doesn’t mean that the machine is dumb or broken or not capable of other stuff (remember, it has multiple functions), it just means that that particular function is not available. Now think of a quadriplegic; they’re disabled. Their legs have been “turned off”. Their other functions are still active, but that part has been “disabled”. Calling it a “disABILITY” would mean that they could stand if they wanted to, but they’re choosing not to.
“Handicap”; this just means something that makes someone struggle more in a particular area to keep up. Think of a golfing handicap. I’m going to need help with this one, because I’m not familiar with golf, but it refers to the person’s average score or something. It doesn’t mean they can’t play golf, it just means they may require additional coaching or compensation (as in, using a slightly different method/modification) in order to achieve the same score as someone without a handicap, or with less of a handicap. Calling it “handiCAPABLE” means they could play better golf if they’d just TRY!
Now, differently abled, that makes sense. It means that they’re weaker in a particular area, but hey, they’re strong in THIS area. Think of the disabled guy in the wheelchair; running a marathon by foot may be out, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a genius in front of a keyboard. Or if he’s athletically-inclined, maybe he can’t RUN a marathon, but perhaps he can WHEEL it.
To me, swapping one label for another is still saying “there’s something wrong with this person”. You’re still drawing attention to the fact that they have limitations. Saying they’re “differently abled”, however, is accurate, and applies to everyone, not just people with disabilities or handicaps. The focus is on what they can do, or do well, as opposed to what they can’t do.
And don’t get me started on client vs consumer, ugh!
Enough with the political-correctness. Let’s quit focussing on which label we’d prefer to tag people with, and focus on what a person can DO, eh?
And before anyone feels the need to tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about, I identify as disabled due to multiple physical, mental, and cognitive issues. I don’t feel that calling myself disabled/handicapped is derogatory, I feel I’m just stating a fact.