I am not a “person with a disability.” I do not “have a disability.” Given that I look like this:
You probably think I’m either delusional or in denial. I’m not, I just have a real problem with the phrase “person with a disability” and the notion of “having a disability.”
I am disabled. More specifically, I am disabled by a society that places social, attitudinal and architectural barriers in my way. This world we live in disables me by treating me like a second-class citizen because I have a few impairments -- most obviously a mobility impairment.
Two ways of looking at disability
What’s the difference between “having a disability” and “being disabled”? It all comes down to two sociological theories: the medical/individualmodel of disability and the social model of disability.
The medical model -- the idea that a person has a disability -- is the dominant notion in our society. It’s the idea that a person is prevented from functioning in our society by their body or brain and it’s just that person’s tough luck. If they can’t blend into this world, it’s not the world’s problem.
The social model is the way I prefer to view the world. It’s the idea that a person with an impairment or illness is disabled by the society we live in because of all the barriers that are put in our way.
Read more at XO Jane