It is interesting that the day I write this article, I have read a number of other articles that also questions whether the term ‘disability’ is still fit for purpose, although they do not offer a solution in the way I am proposing.
The upshot of ‘austerity’ has been a greater focus on disability by the media, as a welfare issue. Disability is now defined as a label of poverty, and something to pity. Being disabled has become a label to excuse behavior and reduce responsibility. This has now made ‘being disabled’ a justification for not doing things, highly attractive for people who are often lazy and unwilling to take responsibility. The media has turned disability into the poster child of poverty.
This corruption of the disability label has meant issues of inclusion and meaningful contribution have now been frowned upon and even regarded as immoral. The term disability no longer relates to people’s impairments, but rather it is a social and political weapon to show the harm of ‘austerity measures’ by people who know very little about disability issues and the social model of disability.
It is now very difficult to discuss disability issues in the public domain without being dragged into justifying austerity, as welfare activists have hijacked the political space of disabled people from disabled people themselves. This is why I have decided to begin using the term dysability.
Where disability means an inability to do something due to social barriers relating to impairment, dysability means having a difficulty in ability to do something.
This is a subtle difference, and I appreciate many people will see it as a cheap political correctness gimmick, and this is fine. I have personally chosen to use it so I can better identify myself and discuss my issues without always being forced to overcome the left-wing corruption of my identity. I will always explain what dysability means, but I am not making this a campaign issue. I do not want individuals and organisations to feel they have to adopt the time unless they really want to, and they believe they understand its meaning.
Dysability is not the same as disability in terms of ideology and thinking. There are still disabled activists, which I am no longer part off, as I am a dysability activist. This is a slightly different issue, and only time will show that. I believe if people can see themselves as dysabled by society rather than disabled, having difficulties rather than inabilities, they can understand difficulties can always be overcome in one way or another.
This is probably the first of many articles I will write on the subject, and I am keen to see what impact it may make in the coming years. But for now, it is out there, I am using the term dysability, and I have good reasons for doing so. If the term works for you, this is an added bonus.
– If you like what I say, have a look at my website at http://www.simonstevens.com or follow me on twitter, @simonstevens74