E-Community Activity: Describing Your Disability

Send this message to the e-community of protégés and mentors.

Subject: Describing your disability

Self-knowledge can be reflected in how you describe yourself. For example, the way you describe your disability may suggest that you consider yourself strong and resilient, helpless and worthless, passive and dependent, or creative and productive.

During a rainy afternoon in a small lounge in McCarty Hall at the University of Washington, a group of high school students with disabilities viewed a collection of videos about people with disabilities. Their job was to come up with guidelines for context, style, and format for a new video on computer technology for people with disabilities. After showing one program that featured a boy riding a horse who used crutches to walk, a young woman who is blind suggested:

I think we should make a list of words that we will never use in a DO-IT video. "Special," "heartwarming," and "inspirational" go to the top of the list. Why are kids with disabilities any more or less "special" than other kids? And why did the announcer say it was "inspirational" to see a kid with a disability ride a horse when we assume other kids ride horses just to have fun?

What words do you prefer not be used in describing your disability or people with disabilities as a group?