If I could not distinguish between colors on the red to yellow spectrum I would still enjoy eating oranges.
Of course, one day I might be very surprised when I bit into a small grapefruit or a large lemon.
Language matters. That is the logic behind the disability community's creation of the People First campaign. The insight is that the simple act of saying "She is a person with a disability" is different than saying "She is a cripple." The experience of the speaker is different. The impact on the one spoken about and on those who listen is different. Positive identity-affirming attitudes and actions are put in motion by this little memory-jog of affirming the value of individuals.
How different can you be before you become someone else? Something else?
Racism taught that something as superficial as skin color is
reason enough to assign or deny status as fully a human or fully a citizen. The
same opportunism of power is used to justify exclusion of persons with disability.
Much of the emotional turmoil felt in adjusting to the inevitable disabilities
gained over a lifetime flow from finding this prejudice inside yourself as you
The move to advocate for full accessibility becomes as natural as breathing once difference - even radical disabling difference - is seen as normal for human beings. Choosing how too express one's self-identity through language and resolving only to allow only that which is respectful is a powerful act of empowerment that s open to all. Choosing to insist on access to information or physical space is another such act of self-respect.
Inclusion is the Paradigm Shift
Inclusion beings where advocacy for simple accessibility leaves off. Accessibility might include having the restaurant menu in Braille but inclusion is when the waiter who knows where it is kept is kept offers to bring it before being asked. Accessibility might be texting to the Deaf colleague in front of you but inclusion is learning sign language. The transition has been made when the design team, or executive committee, or policy advisor forcefully asks, "What is so exceptional about this situation that it justifies exclusion of some people?" in challenge to the assumption of dismissal-as-the-norm in "How much does it cost to make this accessible."