Importance of Language

The Why for the Language

While putting together the blog, website, and the language documents, “Why” has come up many times. Which led me to what I really wanted: to change the thoughts and perceptions around the disability community by how language is used to describe individuals and the community in its entirety. Changing one’s language is not enough to make genuine change for racism, homophobia, the patriarchy, etc. Language is a start to understanding the meaning behind the words and by lending perspective, and educating others with language, we can change how marginalized groups are treated and viewed—this will lead to true change. Currently, take any word that was previously discarded for being politically incorrect, you can follow each and every replacement that followed after, meaning that If the thoughts and actions behind the words do not change, another word will just replace it and thus nothing, will have changed.

Changing The Language & Euphemisms for Persons with Intellectual Delays

Euphemism to Change

  • You belong on the short-bus or that is short bus material
  • Like a 4 year old in a 40 year old body
  • I’m such an idiot, that was really dumb
  • sorry that was so dumb
  • They area total moron
  • This class is so stupid
  • This song is so r**

Labels to Retire

  • Mental R*****
  • Anything to do with R***
  • Mentally Handicapped
  • Mentally Defective
  • Mentally Challenged
  • Imbecile/Idiot/Idiotic
  • Moron/Moronic
  • Mouth Breather (Uniformed)

The Why to Change One’s Language

  • There is No non-ableist way to insult someone’s language.
  • Replacing words like “r*” or “idiot” as insults replacing with synonyms still preserves the harm to the disabled people & community.
  • All people over 18-years old who need help with decisions and they are still adults and need to be treated with dignity and spoken to as any other adult.
  • Idiot, moron and imbecilic are relics of the past. These words are no longer in use by the medical world after the American Eugenics movement popularized them. This made the case easier for Nazi’s in the Holocaust to remove individuals with such labels.

What to use instead of Euphemisms

  • First address a person by their name or use the following…
  • Person with an intellectual disability
  • Person with a cognitive disability
  • Intellectual Disability
    *IDD-Intellectual & Developmental Delay
  • Uniformed
  • Reckless
  • Impulsive
  • Ignorant
  • Tacky
  • What were you thinking?
  • What the hell were you thinking?
  • Risk-Taking
  • Feckless
  • Narrow Minded
  • Frustrating(ed)
  • Annoying
  • Irritating
  • Obnoxious
  • Uh yeah that makes total sense now that I’m thinking of it