Words can be hurtful and sadly, we are all guilty of hurting people whether or not it was intended. Sometimes, able-bodied individuals say things that, in a way, add insult to people with disabilities, their friends and family. Today, on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, let’s talk and educate ourselves with some phrases which are immensely hurtful to our disabled friends and pledge to avoid them in the future. You may not realise they’re hurtful because you don’t mean them in a bad way. But its always great to learn and be more aware of everyone around us.
1. You Don’t Look Disabled
This can be particularly hurtful to them, simply because it’s like tying their identity to their disability. This mindset needs to be changed since it will never allow our society to evolve, especially if people restrict their understanding of a disability to a preconceived notion that all disabled people should look a certain way.
2. You’re So Lucky He Takes Care Of You
Do I even need to explain why this statement is absolutely impertinent? It brazenly assumes that disabled people are helpless and incapable of being in romantic relationships and they should be grateful that somebody is interested in them. Instead, ask them about how they met or what they love about each other if you are genuinely interested to find out.
3. I Know Someone With Your Disability And Something That Helped Them Was Doing This
This phrase is remarkably insensitive because it completely overshadows the fact that no two people with disabilities can have the same experience. Even if they have the exact same condition, the way they react to their treatments can be very different. So, it’s best not to indulge in offering unsolicited advice and leaving it up to the person and their family.
4. What Happened To You?
This is one of the most asked questions and I do realise that people often get curious but phrasing it like that implies that something must have gone wrong. It feels like saying that able-bodied people are normal and healthy and anyone who doesn’t fit into that bracket is the result of an accident or a mistake. Instead, politely excuse yourself and ask them if they mind you asking what their disability is?
5. I’m So Sorry
Sometimes people forget that disabled people have feelings too. A person’s disability is nothing for you to be sorry about. It is an aspect of their identity that should be honoured if they choose to share it with you. In fact, save your apologies and sadness for when that’s what the person you’re talking with actually needs it.
If you’ve said any of these things, it doesn’t make you a terrible human being. We all make mistakes and it’s only wise to learn from them. So, now that you’ve acquainted yourself with some common inappropriate phrases, make sure you refrain from using them in the future.
What phrases are you tired of hearing? Let us know in the comments!
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