The Social Model: understanding the language of disability from a cartoonists point of view

The Charitable Model understanding

Disabled people have also identified the ‘Charity Model’ of disability – taking this approach, disabled people are portrayed as weak, vulnerable and needy, relying upon charity ‘handouts’.

Many of the larger disability charities continue to perpetuate this negative image of Disabled people to the general public to encourage them to continue making donations.

Much of the charity ‘industry’ is run by non-disabled people, with many charities using a substantial portion of their income to maintain the charity itself rather than support or empower the disabled people they claim to represent.

A lot of campaigning has been undertaken by disabled people over several decades to highlight and challenge the fact that the management committees and staff teams of many of the big charities did not include the disabled people they represent. “Nothing about us without us” and “Rights not charity” have been rallying cries for the disabled people’s movement in the past.

Many disabled people believe that the struggle for civil, human and legal rights and full inclusion in society should be the focus for organisations and charities, not making ‘special’ or segregated provision or treating disabled people as in need of sympathy or care. If the public feels sorry for us, disabled people would argue, we can never be equal citizens.

The Social Model: understanding the language of disability from a cartoonists point of view

A Social Model of Neurodiversity at Work

People often ask whether autism (or another neurodivergent condition) is a disability. I’d argue that it is more helpful to ask whether autistic people are disabled (to which my answer would be: in most cases, yes). It may seem a semantic distinction, but it is important: it locates the disablement not in the autistic person’s brain, but in the society they live in and the way the individual and society interact. Autism is not our disability: it may be an impairment, a difference, or some combination. Our disability is the difficulty that arises in our interaction with the specific society in which we live.

A Social Model of Neurodiversity at Work

It’s Perfectly OK To Call A Disabled Person ‘Disabled,’ And Here’s Why

Stay clear of cutesy euphemisms like “handicapable” or “differently-abled.” Nondisabled people have taken to the terms in recent years, but they’re patronizing and tend to reinforce stereotypes about disabilities, said Amy Kavanagh, a visually impaired activist. 
“Disability is not a bad word. I was born visually impaired and was made to feel like my disability was shameful for most of my adult life,” Kavanagh said. “These kind of euphemisms made me feel like my disability was too difficult for nondisabled people to manage — that I had to minimize it and hide it for fear of causing discomfort by reminding people of my needs.”

It’s Perfectly OK To Call A Disabled Person ‘Disabled,’ And Here’s Why

On “Person-First Language”: It’s Time to Actually Put the Person First

The rule is to put the word person first, before the disability or condition, in order to emphasize that those being referred to are people first, not just diagnoses or disabilities. For example, “people with disabilities,” instead of “disabled people.”

This is a perfectly lovely general tip: When in doubt, put the word person first, particularly when referring to people with disabilities. But identity is complex—way too complex for a rule like this to work without any exceptions.

On “Person-First Language”: It’s Time to Actually Put the Person First