I am unsure who started the # when I call myself disabled, but to whoever did, thank you. I just asked on Twitter if anyone knows. …
I know who started it… @Imani_Barbarin!!! Thank you.
The great thing about Twitter for me is that there is a place to meet other disabled people. I can put questions to the general community or reach out to those who experience the same disabilities as myself. The ability to find disabled people using hashtags is wonderful. I have found some great people and been involved with some amazing conversations this way.
One of the best hashtags this past few weeks has been #WhenICallMyselfDisabled. I love this because it has been a great way for disabled people to shout about their experiences of using the word disabled. As well as being able to explain what they mean when they say they are disabled.
I am in no way stealing this #, I am just trying to express what this # means to me.
My friends would not describe me as disabled, but they know I am. I believe for them it’s just something in the background. For that I am grateful. They know my limitations and when we’re out and about help me a lot.
So when I wrote on Twitter what I mean when I call myself disabled I was OK with the response from a friend that “I’ve never been “disabled”…” to them I was happy with that. Some may think otherwise, but for me I was not bothered. I have known this person for a very long time and lived with them whilst at University.
The common theme which I took from this wonderful hashtag was that we as a community have no problem with referring to ourselves as disabled. It appears those in the abled community find it quite awkward when we use the word disabled. We do not see it as a negative thing. We are using the hashtag not to be negative, but to express to the world our challenges and what we need to make our lives easier. We see it as a way to describe ourselves and use it as a way to express our needs as a community.
If you want to learn more about disability then don’t tell the disabled community to not use a word which we choose to use. If you want to learn more about the disabled community ask yourself why you feel so uncomfortable around the word disabled. We are not going to stop using it. I have written about this before in my post Describing Not Defining. This post has its own dedicated page on my Word Press because I do not define myself as a disabled person. To me that would imply that is all I am. Instead I describe myself as disabled. This means that disabled is one of the many words I can use to describe myself.
If you have any questions around disability and it is a genuine question the community won’t hate you for asking it. All we ask is that you respect us as people, don’t be ableist, be kind. We are a community described by the word disabled, we will not stop using the word just because it makes people feel uncomfortable. If you dislike the word disabled, ask yourself why? If you are not disabled and you dislike the word, why are you so upset by it? We’re not.
Thank you again to @Imani_Barbarin. Always challenging perceptions and being an amazing voice for so many people.
If you would like to get in touch you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org
I am on Twitter @PhilippaB
I also use Instagram @VisuallyImpairedPip
Brilliant post Philippa! I’m happy to describe myself as disabled but I’m also happy to define myself as disabled because, taking everything into perspective, my life is the best it’s ever been!
Glad to hear this. I’m glad you liked the post. It’s important we share positive stories too.