Not A Word

Words are not just words, they have both dictionary and emotional meanings assigned to them. As a result, a single word can have more than one connotation; what may be viewed as being offensive to one person, may not be to someone else. For example, lets look at the words that are used to categorize people with disabilities. Now, some people do not like the word disability or disabled, and would rather say physically challenged.
To some, putting “dis” in front of the word “ability” means deficiency; having a lack of something. At one point, handicapped was widely used and accepted among those in society, but that is changing. Instead of parking places saying “handicapped parking”, there are more and more with the sign “disabled parking.”
I personally do not like the word handicapped thus I am glad to see the shift. Although by definition, handicapped and disabled mean the same thing, they both evoke different reactions in me. Whenever I hear people say handicapped, I immediately tense up inside, whereas, with the other words mentioned above, I do not have the same reaction. So, Why is that? I believe it is because under the medical model, disability and disabled are used to specify guidelines, as well as, individuals in need of services.
As time progresses, so do ideas and thought processes. There is a paradigm among us. There is a shift from the medical model to the social model; one that seeks to challenge society’s notions about those with disabilities. There is a focus placed on ability with words such as, special needs, differently abled, specially abled, etc. Whatever the case may be, whatever word you prefer to use, remember in every person,lies an unique ability!

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