Tag: disability community

On Language

drawing of a human head with letters inside.I speak English. You speak English. But the English we speak is not the same as our grandparents spoke. The English your grandparents spoke was not the same as was spoken in the 1800s. Language, like people, changes over time.

In the 1960s and 1970s, people used different words than we do today. Some of these words we think of as mean.  ‘Retarded’, ‘Crippled’, and ‘deaf and dumb’ were all common once.  Over time, people saw how hurtful these words were. Then they stopped using those words.

In the 1990s, some people had a new idea they called ‘person-first’ language.  It means you always talk about people before you talk about their disability. So, instead of saying someone is:

  • blind, you say they have vision loss;
  • physically disabled, you say they use a wheelchair;
  • autistic, you say they have autism

In the past few years, some disability rights activists have been saying they do not like person-first language. For a number of reasons, they like identity-first language, phrases such as:

  • autistic person
  • blind person
  • wheelchair user

They say there is nothing wrong with being disabled. I, as a disabled person, agree with them. The people and culture around us have said being disabled is bad. It is other people, who are not disabled, that said disabled people were not human beings. Some people say talking about the person first reminds everyone we are people. Disabled people know we are people. We do not need to be reminded.

There is another problem with person-first language. It says people and their disability can be separate. If you have something, then you can one day not have it. But a disability is not like a broken leg. It cannot be cured. For the vast majority of disabilities, people just learn to live with them.  As Ari Ne’eman, president and founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network once said, ‘When I go on a trip, and the airline loses my luggage, I still arrive with my autism.’

Lydia Brown, who proudly identifies as autistic, has written about this in great detail. Her article gives links to different people’s thoughts from around the web. It talks only about autism. But, it is not just the autism community that this is happening in. Other disability communities are also talking about identity-first language.

5 Reasons Why We Need Another Disability Blog

As budget cuts wreak havoc on services for people with disabilities, we have a choice.

We can continue to advocate for more funding.  Another option is to really listen to one another and learn what supports do exist.

At New England INDEX we choose the second option. As a  respected leader in providing information and resources to the disability community,  we are now offering a venue for people to give  suggestions and share their personal experiences in regards to the resources we write about.

Thus our blog begins.

And our Blog Coordinator is…

My name is Sue Crossley and I am the Blog Coordinator, which basically means I will either be writing the blogs or editing those written by others.

I have over 30 years of experience working for people with disabilities and their families during which time I learned a few important lessons.

  1. A person with a disability is very capable of choosing their own dream.
  2. To reach that dream in life, whether you have a disability or not, you need support to be successful.
  3. The people who support you may be your family or paid staff from an organization that only serves people with disabilities.

But they also must include people from your community who realize that you have something to offer

I have seen many people with disabilities reach their dreams, including home ownership, because people in their communities supported them.

As Blog Coordinator, I want to find the people and programs in your community who want to help others reach their dreams.

A Blog like no other

Five hands coming together like spokes of a wheel

Our blog will be unique for five reasons.
1. A different topic will be presented each month based on what you have been researching on our website.
2. Your stories will be shared so that we can learn what resources have truly made a difference in supporting people with disabilities in the community
3. Exemplary programs will be highlighted each month, programs that may not just serve people with disabilities, but rather the community at large
4. Guest bloggers will be introduced frequently to share diverse opinions and experience
5. Most important, this blog will provide an opportunity for you to become empowered by learning what is working in your community.

Know your community despite cuts

We all stand together at a crossroads as budget cuts are impacting the life of everyone in our state. At the INDEX we believe that our communities still provide a wealth of resources regardless of funding and we need to learn more about these resources together.

Our blog begins next week with the topic of holiday assistance.

We look forward to hearing from you.