Sunday, April 29


Words have tremendous power, its not for nothing that there is the saying the word is mightier than the sword.
I was lying in bed last night not sleeping so I had the radio on listening to the Five Live discussion. You can guarantee that people with a great selection of views will be calling in at nearly midnight on almost any topic. We're all experts of course. So they were discussing the fact the Stephen Hawking described himself as 'wheelchair bound'. Was this politically correct and so on? Some people were quite upset at this description while others less so. I suppose it depends on personal circumstances and Stephen Hawking was pretty right in his description of himself there anyway. Some people rang in to say they were totally blind and still were described as visually impaired even though they had no vision at all. Impairment implying that there is some kind of residual ability.
As for my own opinion I don't mind too much what people call me, its all about how they do it and the context and meaning. I'm not keen on wheelchair bound or in a wheelchair because both of these descriptions tend to focus on the chair and not me. Many older people have real problems in the use of language and I try to be tolerant of that, as I suppose they have had so many shifts in attitude over the last 20 years a lot don't understand current thinking. So dont just think about what you say to a disabled person, but think about the context and how you are saying it.

1 comment:

  1. I don't like the term "wheelchair bound" because it suggests (to me, anyway) that the wheelchair restricts you in some way. My wheelchair doesn't restrict me - it gives me back my independence. The restriction comes from my illness. Personally, I describe myself as a "wheelchair user". Simple, factual, and (I hope) as value-free as possible.

    Still, I suppose it's up to each individual to decide what terminology they feel happiest with for their own situation. Also I don't know how "political" Hawking is about his disability. Maybe he's too busy thinking about Great Things to do with the cosmos to worry about terminology?