Twice in two days I’ve been called out at the hospital for using the word “handicapped,” instead of “disabled.” I’m sure my lack of respect for political correctness offended the walls. There were no people—handicapped or not—within hearing distance—only walls.
The U.S., where I’m from and where I grew up, passed the Americans With Disabilities Act in 1990, but signs remain intact for handicap parking. The only complaints seem to be about non-handicapped folks being lazy and inconsiderate and parking in handicapped spaces, and these folks are so thoughtless that they would treat a “disabled” sign the same way.
My car is disabled when it won’t run. It is totally unable. I was never disabled when I spent two years on crutches—but I was handicapped by the challenges of going up and down steps, etc.
If I needed to choose between the words handicapped and disability for one of my books, I would write, “She was handicapped by her small size and lack of height.” I would not write, “She was disabled by her small size and lack of height.” She’s not disabled, for heaven’s sake—she just can’t reach the top shelf!
Handicap: disadvantage, challenged.
Disability: incapacitated, impaired.
I don’t find the word handicapped offensive; I find the word disabled offensive. Handicapped means it’s difficult; disabled means it’s impossible.
And I especially find political correctness offensive.
People need to get real. They need to sail out of their comfort zones each morning with an attitude of doing something to make the world a better place even if it’s just smiling—rather than creeping out to look around warily and discover what offends them today.
Enough, already! Handicapped, disabled. They are just words. Words are what people make them. Only God’s words are eternal.
Proverbs 30:5 in the Bible promises, “Every word of God is pure.”
People muck them up.
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