Love the Phrasing "…able-bodied and disabled"

Posted August 30th, 2007 by Anthony

This morning in our local paper, the Press Democrat, a columnist said, talking about the invitees for an upcoming community supper, “The idea is that folks wealthy and poor, native-born and immigrant, able-bodied and disabled…will sit and visit… .”

I wrote to thank the columnist, Chris Coursey. When I read the column I was struck and pleased that people with disabilities are included in the list of invitees. It’s rare that we’re mentioned when talking about diversity issues. (I think diversity gives us the best place to examine our attitudes and prejudices about disability.)

Secondly, he made the dichotomy “able-bodied and disabled,” rather than any of the other forced and fuzzy nomenclature, such as “healthy and disabled,” or “normal and disabled.”  I’ve been touting just that usage for a couple of years. Often my disabled friends and colleagues in the local community and the Society for Disability Studies resist the usage. Both of the terms “able-bodied” and “disabled” are social constructs that define who we (people with disabilities) are and who we are not. Maybe people resist the usage because it so accurately and painfully describes how we’re seen.

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