We need to change how we refer to people with disabilities

11th Special Olympics World Summer Games
Image via Wikipedia

On Wednesday I found this post by a parent of a child with disbilities trying to get people to stop using the “r-word” on twitter. It documents the responses she got, some make fun, but others take her point. We need more people like her! That post brought a tear to my eye. I rarely use the word, and now I will endeavour to use it less.

Then while going through my news feeds I discovered this story on the Irish Examiner, its sub heading was “HE won gold in the Special Olympics but is classed a “lunatic”.”

This post was about our legal system and how it classes people with mental disabilities as a “person of unsound mind”. How demeaning is that? How old fashioned is that? Why do we allow our legal system to still use terminology like that? Why is the Lunacy Act 1871 still in force?

Can we not move on with the times and treat people with disabilities with respect and allow them to represeneted fully in law.

I hope the new government will take on board this and attempt to change how we refer to people with disabilities within in our legal system as that may help  change how the rest of society treats people with mental disabilities. It baby steps, but every little helps.

Author: Stephen

Cork born and bred, proud European and Irishman. Involved in many organisations and politics. Also writes for SpirtualityIreland.org and UCC Express.

1 thought on “We need to change how we refer to people with disabilities”

  1. Stephen, I was witch hunted out of the Irish blogging village a bit over 3 years ago for simply conveying my feelings in polite and reasonable terms via email on the use of the ‘r’ word to someone. The response I was met with was vitriolic and unfortunately loads of people decided to row in behind them unaware of what the real situation was. Mob rule at its best. It was all quite dispiriting.

    I was more disappointed with those who kept schtum because it was a mate of theirs that was involved. I don’t believe in censorship but I do believe in people exercising responsibility for what they say. Like that old test case for free speech of someone falsely shouting fire in a crowded theatre, they might be free to say it but they have to live with the consequences of doing so.

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