July marks the international global month of raising awareness for disabilities of all shapes and sizes. By celebrating the experiences and value of disabled people, disability pride month seeks to glorify disability as an identity, and a way of life.
For many disabled people, their disability is a way of life. It impacts every aspect of their life; their career, relationships, aspirations and ambitions. The first disability pride event was held in Boston in 1990, with the first disability pride parade being held in chicago in 2004. The month not only raises awareness of daily life with a disability, but of the essential support given by healthcare, family, friends and caregivers for those with disabilities.
However, although the month aims to raise awareness of disabilities the naming of disability pride itself is problematic in my opinion. I have always personally been adverse to the word disabled. I am able to do so many things, so being labelled as effectively unable is difficult for me. Furthermore, the word disability refers to a wide range of conditions from physical and learning disabilities to mental disabilities in the form of mental illness. How can one word be an appropriate adjective for so many unique and varying people?
What could be used instead of this word? Less abled? Differently abled? I think that depends on the individual and what they are comfortable with. Each disabled person experiences their disability uniquely, no two disabled people are the same. Of course, commonalities are easy to find in the form of exclusion, treatment and inequality, in addition to physical symptoms and daily struggles.
Perhaps disability should have a variety of adjectives attached to it, so each individual has a choice. Disabled people do not have a choice in their disabling condition, having a choice in describing and naming it returns the power, the control to the disabled person.
For me, I would prefer to be labelled as differently able, or perhaps 'diff-abled'. I may not be physically capable of walking long distances, nor am I able to stand loud noise, extreme temperature, nor can i sleep and be well rested. These inflictions all impact my daily life. However, I am able to write, I am able to discuss complex ideas within my theology course, I am able to make and sell handmade items through my business. I am able, I am just differently able, I am not disabled.