This blog is not a personal attack on those who use phrases that I dislike, it’s not my sneaky way of taking shots at others within my community that have a larger platform, these are simply my thoughts and feelings.
I think it’s fair to assume that my right to expression is as valid as any of ours, and I acknowledge you have every right to disagree.
The A word I refer to is ‘Ableds’, a word I refuse to use, and generally dislike.
For those who might be unaware, Abled/Ableds is the term and plural for people who don’t have disabilities – I prefer non-disabled as abled seems incredibly reductive and goes on to suggest that those of us who are disabled are some how less able to achieve.
Whilst it’s true that society is built in such a way that limits many of us, I don’t feel abled is the opposite of disabled and as such, I won’t use the word day to day
My little secret
I’ve got a secret… my mum is abled, my dad is abled, my wife is abled, my daughter is abled, my best friend is abled and… people who’ve acquired their disability were… abled once upon a time. If you have a disability and are reading this, I dare say there are many abled people in your life.
As such, when I hear that word being thrown around, I don’t think of it as short-hand for those non-disabled people who don’t ‘get it’ I think of the people I know and love, I think of the people who have acquired or been newly diagnosed with a disability and how this term is reductive to all of them.
Consider this scenario:
A non-disabled person goes about their life. They spend time on social media, as many of us do, often seeing comments like these (all legitimately from Twitter and gathered as I was writing this):
That person then goes on to acquire a disability, or learn of a previously undiagnosed disability.
Who do they turn to for support at this difficult time? Sure, you’ve got the usual Doctors/Family/Counselling/Charities but what about a community, where do you find that?
Do you go online and try to connect with those other people who share your disability, or experience life in a similar way to you? Those same people that referred to you as insufferable, stupid, being part of the problem, or straight up said fuck you on Twitter.
The same goes for those with progressive disabilities that worsen over time, such as in my case, and those who’re still going through the process of accepting a lifelong condition.
Your point being?
The point I’m trying to make is that we aren’t a separate species, we’re all human and the vast majority of us will experience some level of disability throughout our lives.
Ableism should absolutely be called out and those who perpetuate such behaviours should be held to account but referring to ableds as an oppressive collective just feels wrong to me. If the statistics are believed to be accurate, use of this word has us labelling anywhere from 75-85% of all the people on the planet as being ignorant and uncaring towards disabled people – that goes for our own family members who don’t have a disability.
As I said, society can be incredibly exclusory to people with disabilities, and change needs to occur, but is demonising others the way to achieve this? I sincerely doubt it.
If you want to continue using this word, I can’t stop you, and a million other people will join you in doing so, but I just ask that you consider all I’ve said.
As for me, I sincerely intend for this blog to be the last time I say the word abled.
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[…] was able to pass as non-disabled (not abled – for reasons explained here) for the first 20 or so years of my life. While I say that, I walked with a noticeable gait through […]