Deep Thoughts

Handicapped vs Disabled

HANDICAPPED VS DISABLED
BY WAYNE DE BLOIS – MARCH 15, 2010
Recently, I heard “Handicapped” from a member – he was referring to the Paralympic Games.
During the last 30 years, Terry Fox and Rick Hansen have changed the course of history. They broke down the barriers and changed societal attitudes for the better toward people with disabilities.
People don’t refer to Terry Fox or Rick Hansen as crippled or handicapped.
We show the world, with great courage as we overcome great adversity, that we are just as capable as the non-disabled or even more so.
Words like Handicapped, Cripple or Mentally Retarded are throwback words from a wholly different and darker time.
Like we don’t use the ‘N’ word to refer to people of colour, we can’t use ‘fagg’ to refer to Gay people and when these words are used, they are used to incite hatred.
It is the same with People with Disabilities as we take our power back and fight for our rights. As we are persons first, then ‘who happen to have disabilities’. We are still fighting in this and other parts of the world.
On a personal Note: I am very sensitive around these issues as I grew up with the word ‘Handicapped’. How I struggled, and fought against my disabilities and how I turned them around and began to learn to accept that part of myself. I suffered more at the hands of others in my life as a result of my disabilities. The Gay part of my life has been a piece of cake (my first love lies with people with disabilities, not with gay people.) Some people, like my step-father, only saw my disabilities and thus I was labelled. People become blind and fail to see the real person behind the disability. They then become the disabled ones.
As I grew up, people referred to me, as well as others, as handicapped and it was as if we were not real persons in their eyes. We became non-persons, only a label to them.
We say “I am a person first, who happens to have a disability”. Break down the word Disability. We are very able people, just like other people. We are no different. We call ourselves ‘persons with disabilities’. We are no more or less than other people.

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