There’s a new hashtag campaign around saying the word “disability.” It is initiated and led by my friend and writing companion Lawrence Carter-Long. I am wildly in favor. I am trying, in my writing this year, to write the sentence: “There are no special needs, only needs” as often as possible.

We all have needs. Needs vary. Needs require different kinds of resources to meet. We all have needs.

Here’s a great recent post from “E is for Erin” on the tag.

There’s a social media campaign going on right now to #SayTheWord – it was started by Lawrence Carter-Long, the Public Affairs Manager for the National Council on Disability, and is an active Twitter hashtag. The word, of course, is disabled.The importance of this campaign is driven home to me over and over again as I see people performing ludicrous and painful contortions to avoid saying it. Reminder that when I make a criticism the way well-meaning people interact with disability, I am not attacking the people (parenthetical reminder that I was immersed in ableism myself not long ago), but inviting people to think about things in a different way.
Instead of saying disabled, nice people say things like:

  • differently abled
  • handicapable (yes, really)
  • physically/mentally challenged
  • special needs

It’s that last one, special needs, that I really want to take aim at, because I believe that seemingly innocuous phrase does serious damage to disability rights.

It’s an excellent post. I also quite like, for those not already familiar, Lydia Brown on “identity first language” and Lisa Egan on “I am a disabled person.”

Update: Brown (in a comment that isn’t showing up. Thanks Blogger!) says: See also, my post on differently-abled as a term: http://www.autistichoya.com/2013/08/differently-abled.html 

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