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How to talk about disability sensitively and avoid ableist tropes

People participate in the first annual Disability Pride Parade, in July 2015, in New York City. The parade calls attention to the rights of people with disabilities and coincides with the anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

"The social model says that a disability is not my inherent problem and that something isn't inherently wrong with me as a person. I think it's more of the community aspect and how you can have diversity in your culture, versus the medical [model] of, like, you have to be fixed, you have to blend in with the norm and this is how we're going to do that to fix you," said McDonnell-Horita.

Disability remains one of the most challenging social identity categories or statuses to talk about. Many of us struggle with whether or not the word disability is a positive, negative, or neutral way to refer to people whose abilities don't match social expectations.

This piece provides a lot of thoughtful information and guidance from self-identified disabled folks. Individuals may differ about the polarity of the word "disabled," but all of us can do our best to gain as much information as possible on which to base our decisions about using or not using the term, and behaving as inclusively and equitably as possible.



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