Sunday, November 20, 2011

Terminology for Disabilities and Perceptions of People With Disabilities

I want to clarify a bit of language around the topic of disability. First, blind people use words like "see" "look" and "watch" about as often as do people with sight. When I say I "watched" a movie it means I listened to it with descriptive audio. I missed the color displays, but got the same basic info. you did from "seeing" it through your eyes. If I "looked" at something, I touched it enough to get the info. I'm interested in. Some blind people, including me will use words like, "checked it out" or "scoped it out" but these are easily understood terms which sighted people understand.

For some people it is important to state that they are first a Fellow Human Being, then that they have a particular disability. Thus, words like "wheelchair bound" "in a wheelchair" or "crippled" are offensive. A person Uses a wheelchair, white cane, works With a dog to assist them or to guide them. The wheelchair is a Tool, Not the person Using the tool.

A person with partial sight is usually referred to as Visually Impaired. But again, it is He or She who is visually impaired, Not that Visually Impaired Guy or Girl. The person Is not the impairment, the person Has the impairment.

Since I'm totally blind I have no objections to being called a blind person or a deaf-blind person. But that is because I'm older and there is so much more to get upset about in the world that I don't find these terms offensive, so long as I am not called a "girl" or the word "poor" is not put ahead of blind or deaf-blind.

But the politically correct phrasing would stress Personhood first, and that makes sense. A person who is blind or a Person who is deaf-blind is not summed up by his/her disabilities.
I'm just old enough that "blind person" is better than Other names I have been called.

People with disabilities have the same range of feelings and behaviors as those without disabilities. As adults we do not want to be treated like children! I was So glad when I Finally got a bit of gray in my hair because people Stopped calling me that "litle blind girl". I used to think I would die among the ranks of "little blind girls" even wrote a poem about it.

This brings up another subject, honesty. When I ask a friend I trust how something looks on me or if colors match, I am asking for the truth! "Those pants really don't work with that shirt" is Not an offensive comment if I am asking. I'm likely to say "Thank you, what would work better?" The same is true for fabric coordination, I Want to know if my possible choices work, look good, or Not.

You have to work to get info. when you cannot see it and have trouble physically hearing it. I was royally annoyed the other day to find that "hand-mace" doll clothing is Not "hand-made." I am thankful to the friend who told me this, I just Wish I had known it Sooner!

It seems that "hand-made" can mean I followed a pattern and used a sewing machine. I have been designing doll clothing and sewing it By Hand! Now I need a truthful friend to tell me how much of my work must be ripped out and redone on the machine! I asked a different friend why nothing was said earlier. Her response was that my stitches were small and my sewing was good and she thought is was awesome that I could do this, even though some stitches in a seam were crooked. I cannot Hope to compete with sighted seamstresses if I don't have decent Info.! My seams are straight, but contain crooked stitches which mark them as Made By Hand, and inferior looking when cmpared with "hand-made" doll clothes. Very Frustrating. Now I must go through All that I have made and re-do seams which have a few crooked stiches in them!

It all could have been avoided by someone telling me that "hand-made" did Not mean sewn By Hand. But to be fair, probably no one thought of this for a while, then they did not know how to tell me. Then, as my second friend said, it was so amazing that I can do what I do that they saw no need.

The truth is that some people with disabilities are wonderful people. Some are a pain in the butt, and most are a mixture of traits, just like people without disabilities.

If anyone has a real question, please feel free to ask. I'm pretty offense proof..

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