Disability vs. Different Skills. Undoubtedly a point at which many take a position and others oppose it.
When referring to people with disabilities many times we come across the different terms that exist, people with disabilities vs. different abilities or even the term “disabled.”
Some people will think that it is a matter of simple forms, others will say that it goes beyond that.
Surely the way you refer to things says a lot about where you stand on that issue or what your mindset indicates.
Disability vs. Different Skills
For a long time, the term “different abilities” became fashionable as a non-discriminatory way of referring to people with disabilities and has been adopted by many institutions, including in Peru. It is a way that seeks to separate the person from their disability and avoid discrimination. On the other hand, focusing on respect, focusing on the strengths and abilities of the person and profiling him / her made a special treatment depending on their condition and type of disability .
Without a doubt, the approach is valid and with a very good purpose since we live in a society in which discrimination and little access to opportunities is part of the day to day.
However, let’s try to delve a little more about this concept of “different abilities”.
From a principle of equality of people there are no different needs or different capacities. We all have the same capacities and needs, both the capacity for development and the need to feel loved, healthy or to exist.
In that sense, we are all the same. What differentiates us are those basic qualities of the human being but the qualities or aptitudes towards certain subjects. In the case of disability, it is not the disability itself that generates a difference, but rather the environmental barriers that reveal a limitation that does not exist in itself.
People with disabilities are not superheroes, they are like each one of us and that is how they deserve to be treated.
UN International Convention for the Rights of PWD
According to the International Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of the United Nations (UN), it was established that the appropriate term to refer to people who have one or more disabilities is: “People with Disabilities” (PCD) or “People in a situation Disability ”(PeSD).
Because disability arises from a situation caused in the very interaction of people with the environment. That he is not always enabled or in his physical or social environment. Disability in itself is not an attribute of the human being. That develops as a social model in disability .
It is no longer a matter of health but of Human Rights. Avoid welfare and promote a positive vision to address the issue.
How NOT to refer to a person with a disability:
- Disabled: it is not correct because it is integrated as part of the approach to the same person, as a condition above their humanity and it is not.
- Diminutives: Surely you have heard people refer to PWD as “blind”, “deaf”, etc. This use should be eliminated because it leads to a treatment for children that does not focus on improving their participation in society and assuming responsibilities but on always being a person below one.
- Sick: disability is not a disease or is derived from a disease in all cases. But, in many cases, a situation that disappears when we eliminate barriers in the environment. Many people with disabilities are perfectly healthy, so referring to them as sick or “sick” is not correct.
- Different skills: as seen above, it is an approach that, although it starts from a positive attitude, is not adapted to an adequate approach towards people with disabilities.
Other terms that we should not use when referring to a person with a disability
- Incapable: the person with a disability can and is capable of working, studying and participating in society in a social and economic way as long as we eliminate the environmental barriers that prevent this from being achieved.
- Handicapped: not in himself, again by a situation in the environment. Let’s take an example: Is a person in a wheelchair prevented from entering a shopping center? Not in itself since it has the ability to move, but if the structure does not have ramps or corridors that are too narrow then the person will not be able to move around the site, even if they have the ability to move in a wheelchair.
- Abnormal: Who is normal in this life and how is the concept of normality defined? We think that this approach starts from feeling superior to the other in terms of the common and unusual without realizing that deep down it is discriminatory.
Other terms to refer to people with disabilities:
- Person with functional disability: In some countries such as Spain this term is used which, in addition to including the expression “people with disabilities”, seeks to emphasize the functional issue and highlight that those people require some adaptations at a physical level that allow correct development in the same conditions as others. In terms of performance.
- Person with a disability: in many cases the disability comes from the environment and in others it can also be a temporary situation. For example: a person who suffers a car accident, very common in Peru, and ends up with a fractured leg in which they need to use crutches or a wheelchair for day-to-day life. We can see that if it is a university student and the University does not have elevators for the upper floors, then it could be a barrier or in the case of transportation, informal systems, undefined stops and little regulation could present barriers to transportation. In the same way at work and at home.
How to refer to people according to the specific disability?
Always to the person above the disability.
- Hearing impaired person
- Person with motor / physical disability
- Visually impaired person
- Person with psychosocial disability
- Person with intellectual disability
It is important to bear in mind that no one is free to find themselves in a situation of disability. It is necessary to work for a more aware and accessible society that allows eliminating the barriers that often hold back the development of these people.
In terms of design for example, a universal design is good for everyone. A ramp is good for a person in a wheelchair, an older adult, or a pregnant woman.