A couple of weeks back I asked my readers for feedback on my blog – likes, dislikes and suggestions. Taking it all in, one of those bits of feedback in particular made me stop and think. It was from a LinkedIn connection of mine who is the father of a son born with spina bifida and he was responding to my post about how Jim Abbott conquered adversity.
This reader felt compelled to reach out to me to stress the importance of the proper way to refer to people with disabilities. In a previous iteration of my post (since edited), I referred to Jim Abbott as a “one-handed man,” when in reality he is a “man with one hand.” As this reader stressed, his one hand is not what defines him.
I think it’s important to recognize that there are two valuable lessons to be learned here:
- When referring to people with disabilities, it’s important to remember that they should be recognized as people first and not be defined by their disability. Someone that has a disability is not a “disabled person,” but a, “person with a disability.”
- Embrace feedback – No matter who you are, what you’ve accomplished or where you’ve been in life, there is always more to learn and always someone that can consider them more of an expert on a certain topic than you. When someone has new knowledge to offer, take your conversation with them as an opportunity to learn and better yourself.
One last note, I think it’s also important to share this link for future reference about disability etiquette: http://www.drctn.org/disabilityetiquette.shtml
Keep the feedback coming.