Friday, July 25, 2008

So. Who is Disabled?

dis·a·bled [dis-ey-buhld]
1. crippled; injured; incapacitated.
2. (used with a plural verb) persons who are crippled, injured, or incapacitated (usually prec. by the): Ramps have been installed at the entrances to accommodate the disabled.

We need words for everything. We're not comfortable if we don't have words to describe everything we see and do.
But the thing is, that sometimes, the words we use are, well, they're uncomfortable themselves.
Like 'disabled.'
What's disabled?
Leaving aside, for the moment, my reservations about the Olympics being held in China which continues to repress its own people, particularly as the Games approach, this summer will see not just the Olympic Games, but the Paralmpics.

Read about the Paralympics on the official website, or anywhere else for that matter, and you will frequently come across the word 'disabled.'
I thought about it. I thought about it quite a lot.
And then I looked up the sports in which the paralympic athletes will compete.
They are; Archery; Athletics; Boccia; Cycling; Equestrian; Football 5-a-side; Football 7-a-side; Goalball; Judo; Powerlifting; Rowing; Sailing; Shooting; Swimming; Table tennis; Volleyball; Wheelchair basetketball; Wheelchair Fencing; Wheelchair Rugby;; Wheelchair Tennis.
With the notable exception of rugby, I was never any good at any of the above sports. And there are those who would argue that rugby should actually included in the list of sports at which I am not now and never was any good.
I certainly was never much good at athletics. I tried archery, but was a total failure. Judo and me parted company early. Rowing was too difficult. Sailing made me ill. I swam like a brick.
It goes on and on.
So the question is this.
When compared to those taking part in the paralympics, am i the one who is disabled? Are they not the ones who are able?
Just because one or two parts of the body don't work or don't work well, does that make someone disabled?
Because, in my experience, those classified as 'disabled' invariably are possessed of a great deal more talent, in general, than what is called the 'able bodies' community.
Is Stevie Wonder disabled because he is blind? Or is he one of the most talented musicians in history?
Words. They are used to described things and classify things.
Sometimes i wonder, if there are words we could do without.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this article is great, and i totally agree with the author, he gives use seemingly "able" people something to think about!