The Disabled People’s Association of Singapore had a column “What it should have been” in 2015 which ran 6 articles. Named after the corrections section traditionally found in newspapers, it compiled all instances of inappropriate words/terms used to describe people with disabilities that appeared in print.
I gave it a read, learnt the appropriate phrases to describe individuals with disabilities, and found some disability terms that could have been phrased better as I looked through the Straits Times’ Articles.This letter is for the general press in Singapore. I just happened to use Straits Times’ articles as relevant examples.
Tap-in to use toilet for the disabled (Aug 28 2015)
Group helps shed light on the visually-impaired (Oct 6, 2015)
Asean Para Games: Disabled to get more facilities (Dec 3 2015)
Disabled get their own one-stop village (Dec 3 2015)
Firm helps the disabled to set up businesses (Dec 11 2015)
Over $33m in aid given to disabled pioneers (1 March 2016)
Some disability-friendly terms I hope to share with readers and the media outlets:
“People/individuals with disabilities”, instead of “disabled people/the disabled”.
“wheelchair/disability-friendly”, instead of “disabled-friendly”
“Shoppers with visually disability” instead of “visually-impaired”.
“Individuals without disabilities” instead of “abled-bodied users”
“..became non-ambulant after the surgery” instead of “..became wheelchair bound after the surgery”
“wheelchair-users” instead of “handicapped/wheelchair bound”
“Disability-friendly toilets” instead of “Handicapped toilets”
“..has Cerebral Palsy” instead of “..suffers from Cerebral Palsy”
I even remember during the recent ASEAN ParaGame last year, there was a related video shown on channel 5 which did not use disability-friendly terms. I was quite surprised because I thought there would be more emphasis on disability-friendly terms, especially since ASEAN ParaGames hopes to positively promote the abilities and inclusiveness of individuals with disabilities.
I hope local media outlets can use more disability-friendly terms, so that the public can be inculcated likewise to learn, and follow suit. Like the aims of The Purple Parade, let’s play our part to create a more inclusive Singapore by treating everyone with equal respect, and viewing individuals with disabilities as people first, rather than focusing on their condition or what they cannot do 🙂
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Written by: Cass