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.
There was also something quite meta at play, I now realise. In the delightful yet serious game of self-identification with the group, there also exists the teasing possibility of intuiting what autistic culture/s might be collectively speaking. Not wishing to be divisive, or pin down a beautiful butterfly, it matters greatly to know this and to be able to articulate it. Yet it is a very tricky area precisely because of the double empathy problem.
Function labels are how people categorize us in a euphemized, politically-correct way to say ‘r-tarded’ or ‘not-r-tarded.’ I’ve actually heard people say that, in 2018. It puts me in a position to have to constantly explain how and why it is inappropriate to use this language, only to be regarded as a “socially-difficult aspie who loves to correct people.” The irony of me being considered “mind blind,” “lacking in empathy,” and “socially awkward” notwithstanding, I would love nothing more than to be relieved of the burden of constantly having to explain to people why it’s not okay to talk about human beings according to their ability levels. Frankly, if that’s the bar, I’d rather be called low-functioning. Function labels give people permission to see me in terms of my IQ, my verbal abilities, and my ability to socialize in the way neurotypicals do. It carries implications about my emotional stability and my ability to maintain a job. Everything about autism is more complicated than a set of over-simplified platitudes. –Rayma, writer, USA
It feels like they are in a way “thanking” me for not making them feel uncomfortable. Like I’m simply existing, trying to cope in a world that is hellbent on misunderstanding me from day one, and all they can see is, “You are different, yet you’re bending to my comforts and that’s great!” No. I’m living the only way I know how. You’re a non-factor in this, and yet you’re making me want to crawl in a hole and avoid the world. –Rae, direct support professional, USA
They asked me ‘how do we manage all these politically correct extremists?’ Not so much a ‘Dixer’ question but I answered it anyway. I said that ‘political correctness’ tends to be an insulting way to describe inclusiveness and wanting to be respectful of people from groups that face disadvantage in society. As such I didn’t want to do anything to ‘address political correctness’ and said it was a good thing to have.
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.It’s Perfectly OK To Call A Disabled Person ‘Disabled,’ And Here’s Why
“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.”
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