There are many terms that have been used throughout history to describe people with disabilities. Some of the words I have heard are retarded, stupid, dumb, handicapped, inept, deaf, blind, crazy, insane, schizo and more. I believe that the above words are inappropriate. These words are used to describe their condition as a negative attribute. Many people do not view their disability as a negative attribute but just part of life. It is not our place to judge but to learn from people. We want to make sure that we are not conveying a negative attitude towards a disability just because it is different.
I was actually a bit surprised by my search because a lot of the terms that were used while I was growing up have been replaced with more social acceptable terms. I believe that the media has tried to change the terms that are used. However, you can still see disabilities conveyed in a negative ways in the media. Most of the time that you are hearing about disabilities in the media is when it is associated with a school shooting or gun ownership. Finding positive coverage of disabilities conveyed in a positive way are very limited. I think that we have made large progress in helping people to understand the need to frame things in a positive light. We need to avoid establishing self-fulfilling prophecies. A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive or negative feedback between belief and behavior. It is important that we do reinforce the person to view their disability as a negative.
I believe that reporters should use the proper terminology. They have a very public position and influence people’s understanding and use of language. Many people believe that if they hear it on TV it is appropriate to use in their social circles. I think a good example of the influence that reporters or public icons have is Donald Trumps video saying explicit things. He used a term that has been repeated across the nation, on CNN and has been normalized even though we deem it as inappropriate. It is important that reporters recognize their influence on their communities and try to use the proper terms.
I would hope to educate the individual on the proper terminology by pulling them to the side of class where I would explain to them how the term that they used can be hurtful and can cause another person stress. I would give them socially correct terms to use in the future. Additionally, I would push the importance of using the correct language in order to maintain a respectful learning environment and request they they use the proper language in the future while in my classroom.
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