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Why I'm Reclaiming the Term 'Disabled'


“Disabled” can be a term to empower you. It doesn’t have to be something you see as a burden. I use the term disabled as a way to connect myself to people I feel I can relate to. When I refer to myself as disabled, my family gets defensive. They have been raised in a society where that word is often perceived in a negative way.

Reclaiming the word “disabled” is important for our community. It isn’t a negative term. It’s not derogatory. It’s not us calling ourselves less than. It is a word that should empower us. Being disabled and owning that part of myself has lead me to meet some of my closest friends. The disabled community is one of the best out there.

We as disabled people often have to work twice as hard as able-bodied people. Even though we have laws like the ADA and IDEA and Section 504 to support us, it is still hard. I am proud that I am a hard working disabled student. If I didn’t claim the term disabled, I would be stuck in a weird middle. I would feel lazy. Being with people like myself is helpful to my self-esteem. Without this support, I would feel like I was being lazy instead of taking care of myself.

I’m not sure how other people in the community feel, but thinking in this way has helped me as someone newly diagnosed with epilepsy. I hope it helps others who struggle with feeling guilty, or being spoken down due to who you are. I hope this empowers some of you too.

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Getty image by Kiefer Pix.