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Terminology

daz1daz1 Member Posts: 14 Courageous
Hi, a couple of weeks ago I was asked to write a blog for work where they wanted me to write about "hidden disabilities". When I showed a couple of people in the disability rights community some complained about that term while others thought it was ok. One said it should be invisible disabilities while someone else said it should be non-visible disabilities. I did a MA in Disability Studies a couple of years ago where I was told to use the phrase "hidden impairments". That was back in 2013. So my question is, which phrase do you prefer and think is more PC, hidden impairment, hidden disability, non-visible disability or invisible disability?  

Replies

  • Ami2301Ami2301 Community Co-Production Group Posts: 7,753 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @daz1 interesting question! It can vary from person to person, I personally think there's no right or wrong with whatever term is used. I use the term invisible disability or invisible illness. 

    Disability Gamechanger - 2019
  • OverlyAnxiousOverlyAnxious Member Posts: 1,446 Disability Gamechanger
    I don't think it really matters as it means the same thing.  Someone will get offended whichever phrase you use, you can't please everyone.  Personally I hate the word 'disabled', but only because of social conditioning and stigma, it's just a word at the end of the day!

    I tend to use 'invisible illnesses' as I like the alliteration, gives it a bit more impact and makes it more memorable. 
  • woodbinewoodbine Community Co-Production Group Posts: 4,522 Disability Gamechanger
    I have epilepsy and would consider myself to have a "hidden disability" but non of the terms you mention daz would offend me as my disability doesn't define who I am.
    "Putting a child into care, isn't caring for a child" (T.Rhattigan)
  • April2018momApril2018mom Posts: 2,869 Member
    I myself have used the following words:

    Mobility impaired 
    Physically disabled 
    Child with gross motor issues
    Paraplegic
    Full time wheelchair user 

    None of them are particularly offensive. I try to stay clear of obvious disability slurs like the l word, the r word etc however! 
  • dolfrogdolfrog Member Posts: 440 Pioneering
    I have auditory processing disorder which i call an invisible disability.
    For me due to my communication issues the word "hidden" does not relate to any disability unless and individual tries to hide their disability from  others, but that is probably just me. 
    And invisible tends towards the meaning of not being immediately obvious, and possibly the complexity difficult to understand. again just me.
  • pollyanna1052pollyanna1052 Member Posts: 2,032 Disability Gamechanger
    invisible disabilities....hidden infers deliberately done
  • AilsAils Member Posts: 2,268 Disability Gamechanger
    None of the terminology offends me, but if I had a choice I would probably refer to invisible disabilities.  
    Winner of the Scope New Volunteer Award 2019.   :)
  • 66Mustang66Mustang Community Co-Production Group Posts: 5,101 Disability Gamechanger
    As OverlyAnxious says, someone will get offended whatever you call it!!

    As someone who only has hidden disabilities, I don’t care what you call them, but I’m the wrong person to ask as I’m really not into all this PC stuff!!
  • WhileIBreathIHopeWhileIBreathIHope Posts: 216 Member
    daz1 said:
    Hi, a couple of weeks ago I was asked to write a blog for work where they wanted me to write about "hidden disabilities". When I showed a couple of people in the disability rights community some complained about that term while others thought it was ok. One said it should be invisible disabilities while someone else said it should be non-visible disabilities. I did a MA in Disability Studies a couple of years ago where I was told to use the phrase "hidden impairments". That was back in 2013. So my question is, which phrase do you prefer and think is more PC, hidden impairment, hidden disability, non-visible disability or invisible disability?  
    I hate this either way you cut it and this is directed at your question and not you personally.
    Disabled to me is a term to pat someone on the head and speak to their carer whilst ignoring them ( my relative I took in a wheelchair to a library the person looked through them and talked to me many years ago)

    Seeing as I was thrown from a supported  Direct Payments care plan to NOTHING purely due to Austerity.

    I have written diagnosis for Autism, Fibromyalgia and associated Bowel problems and I do not want to be called Disabled, I merely want to be enabled to interact and live my life as an EQUAL.

    I do work self employed as virtually unemployable.

    Currently I cannot carry heavy things long distances and planning life around toilet locations isn’t fun.

    I recently applied for a Blue Badge and explaining to the person that my main issue was revolves around proximity of toilets in short notice and feeling concerned someone seeing me running for a toilet would think I was misusing a blue badge.
    I did everything to avoid being eligible and the assessor decision was my noted hidden disability was bowel related, I could get through on Fibromyalgia or even Autism diagnosis. But again concerned if seen carrying something I would be reported.
    The assessor assured me that they note reason for issuing a badge.

    So what I’m saying is write a positive piece focusing on the person’s value to a company and society, bring the “disability” in as a reasonable adjustment that allows the person to be a valuable asset to the company.

    Focus on positives.

    Focus on Enablement 
  • MariaNicoletteMariaNicolette Member Posts: 24 Connected
    daz1 said:
    Hi, a couple of weeks ago I was asked to write a blog for work where they wanted me to write about "hidden disabilities". When I showed a couple of people in the disability rights community some complained about that term while others thought it was ok. One said it should be invisible disabilities while someone else said it should be non-visible disabilities. I did a MA in Disability Studies a couple of years ago where I was told to use the phrase "hidden impairments". That was back in 2013. So my question is, which phrase do you prefer and think is more PC, hidden impairment, hidden disability, non-visible disability or invisible disability?  
    HI Daz,

    Apologies this is a couple of years too late, but as I was working this morning on an article stuck in my head I came across this thread in the Forum and felt really passionate to speak out about it.

    I don't feel that there should be so much rigidity around wording, and being 'socially acceptable' even within the disability community does not have to be an art! I just used the words 'disability community' and I can tell you I came across someone in a charity that says 'community? there are so many disabilities out there you can't call it a community because each person deals with a different disability and relates to specific illnesses or impairments = we don't use the word community'. While I appreciate her candour and her direction of thought, I do not agree with it. We are a community, disabled people of all types having to deal with a society of non-disabled people that 'just don't get it' sometimes. I mean look at the statistics of disparities between disabled and non-disabled people in the uk!  https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/disability/articles/outcomesfordisabledpeopleintheuk/2020

    Now, while I agree there are some terms of phrase that used to be used in the 1800s and are not acceptable in society today (just have a look at Scope vocabulary list to understand what I mean: https://www.scope.org.uk/campaigns/end-the-awkward/) I'm of the school of thought that you are allowed to term things in any way you see logical and makes sense. As someone said, you can't please everyone.

    Saying that, I wrote an article called 'Now You See Me' which you can read in your leasurely time if you wish: https://theeverydaymagazine.co.uk/opinion/invisible-disability - I had a surge of connections by people with a mental health background. It was amazing to hear the words 'Oh my god, Maria, I can relate!'. But guess what? In my effort to write an article about my own experiences as a woman with a life long health condition I ended up connecting 'only' to people with mental health impairments. I wasn't complaining, I just wished I could ALSO connect with others who have life long health conditions. I later realised that when people talk about 'invisible' disability they automatically assume it is related to mental health. And that is not fair or right because mine is an invisible, unseen, hidden (call it what you like) disability too. You can find an interesting definition of this here:  https://www.invisibledisabilityproject.org/#:~:text=Invisible Disabilities Defined,impairment that goes largely unnoticed.&text=We understand the body as,or periodic throughout one's life.

    To conclude, I would say as long as it is clearly NOT offensive, use what you like. And let the keyboard bashers bash. I am beyond frustrated that we end up focusing on the words than the actual importance of the cause we are trying to take action for. And as long as your actions speak louder than your words I am fine with whatever you call it.

    Yet another final note: EVERYONE is different. The last comment by 'While I breath I hope' (above) is extremely valied. Some people do NOT want to be called disabled. But here me and my opinion too: I lived my whole life until graduation with nobody realising I had an impairment. Because it is invisible I naturally went along in life doing exactly the same things as non-disabled people (what I called my healthy counterparts at the time), did exams with no special requirements etc. You know what a lot of us do. But then, due to the 'Social Model of Disability' (coined by Scope itself: https://www.scope.org.uk/about-us/social-model-of-disability/ ) I hit a brick wall when I went out into the workforce to receive payment for my skills. At first I didn't disclose my disability even though my day to day was affected because I didn't want to be labelled as such. I lost my job within 2 weeks and had no rights because I had not disclosed my illness and I had fallen ill during the time. Dismissed, just like that. Decades later I am still 'unemployable' purely because I can not live day to day like non-disabled people, I attend dialysis 3 times a week, and need to work part time (which most companies frown upon). So, yes, the fact is I am disabled.

    My mum told me angrily once 'I don't know why you are fixating on disabilities, you aren't disabled, you do more than others do in life so stop calling yourself that'. Instead of making me feel better I was furious because in a way telling me not to call myself disabled made me feel like I should be ASHAMED of having a very REAL disability that I have been suffering with since birth - yes I used the taboo word SUFFER - and it is not ok to 'nullify' in a way my experiences I have brutally lived by telling me I am not... what I clearly am. See? We all think differently.

    Saying that, I agree focus on enabling, but don't feel you need to sugar coat the truth.
  • OxonladyOxonlady Member Posts: 412 Pioneering
    Good morning @daz1, I would like to thank you for raising the subject of terminology, as it has elicited such interesting and varied comments. My thanks to everyone who replied because I never know quite which words to use. When applying descriptive terms to myself, I'd rather use the word "challenged" than "disabled" but I don't know that society would understand the wider implications.
    My real dilemma came when someone described me as a "disabled artist". My instinct was to reply that I'd rather just be described as an artist because my artwork is what makes me feel "enabled".
    The person replied that being known as a "disabled artist" would give hope to disabled children and their parents and there was nothing wrong with being disabled. Of course I had not meant that there's anything wrong with bring described as disabled, I just personally identify with being an artist much more than I see myself as disabled. The only way my disabilities affect my artwork is when I'm simply too ill to get out of bed, never mind being able to get on with my artwork...
    Terminology is indeed a minefield, especially since different terms may be applicable when talking about disabled people in general but may change when discribing an individual, according to their personal preference. 
  • Richard_ScopeRichard_Scope Posts: 2,839

    Scope community team

    Very well put @MariaNicolette. I find that the disabled community expend so much energy in arguments around terminology (see Twitter) that there is precious little left for the other more tangible challenges.
    Scope
    Specialist Information Officer - Cerebral Palsy

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