People with disabilities are people first, not access citizens or any other label that objectifies, categorises, and ultimately stigmatises them based on disability.
In an otherwise successful Disability Matters conference in Dunedin this week, the “new terminology” to describe disabled people has caused a stir.
Reportedly, the ideology behind the new term is about “all of us”, meaning that everyone has the right to easy access round their environment. The problem with new terms like “Access Citizens” is that so many people in the disability community just don’t like it. They don’t want to be told how to best describe themselves, and they certainly don’t appreciate the lack of consultation around it, which appears to be the case in this latest example. Some say that terms like this will continue to marginalise people with disabilities.
Several sources say that Be. Accessible are the group who developed the new term, but that hasn’t been confirmed as yet.
People With Disabilities Don’t Appreciate Being Categorised
Man, woman, girl, boy, or transexual. People are diverse, and they all have different needs and wants in life. Yes, everyone does have a right to easy access to their environment, but they don’t need to be labelled in the process. Equal access to the physical environment should be a requirement by law, and in 2017, the fact that this still isn’t the reality is discriminatory in itself.
No amount of terminology changes will fix the reality. Action will fix it, and allowing an ever-diversifying community (the disability community) to lead that conversation is the real action that’s needed here.