‘Disabled’ or ‘with disabilities’

I recently overheard someone saying that it’s no longer ‘correct’ to talk about ‘disabled people’. Apparently, the UN and other international organizations use “people with disabilities” instead.

If that’s true, then it represents a considerable challenge to Deaf Geographies. It takes us back to the point where the difference between a person considered ‘non disabled’ and one considered ‘disabled’ is with the person. i.e. inherently attached to their body.

But of course, this is meaningless within signing spaces – where Deaf people aren’t disabled at all – hearing people who can’t sign are.

In Deaf space, those considered with a disability aren’t disabled, whereas those who are without a disability are disabled.

Of course, you could say that those who can’t sign are disabled. Chances are that their peripheral vision isn’t quite as good as those who can sign. But of course, that’s not considered a disability.

The UN definition returns us to the 1960s; and a dangerous definition of what is considered ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’, ‘impaired’… and given that the UN is the guardian of all things ‘human rights’ and decides what is and what isn’t appropriate intervention or provision for those with disabilities – I’d go as far as to say that they define what is, and isn’t, fully ‘human’.

The fact that they do it without any apparent reference to the differently produced spaces of human life is, frankly, terrifying.

A similar post, that takes a different angle is available at http://mikegulliver.wordpress.com