Disability Check

Jul 18, 2014
Tagged with: Disability Check

As we move forward in our quest to be more of an inclusive society one of the issues that seems to hide under the radar but yet is becoming more apparent is the concern of capturing accurate numbers of disability population. I was recently asked if I objected to being called or referred to as a person with a disability. I politely responded why they wanted to know. They stated that in their community they have come across people with disabilities that do not like to be characterized as having a disability or being associated any way with the word disability.

After reflecting for a second my response was that I did not mind being referred to as a person with a disability as long as the person is first. This led to a question on why there are people with a disability who do not like to be called or referred to as having a disability.

I responded by saying that this is the way that many people see themselves. This is their manta or motto to get through life. It’s not that they do not know they have a disability. They are not living in denial. They have just developed the mindset, maybe by the way they were raised, that they are not defined, held back or even limited by the word disability. This is how they see themselves and how they make it through life. I have no issue with this.

However, I do have an issue when that same person is asked to check a box on a survey, a census document or for an example a school application that asks if they have a disability and they refuse to answer because of the reasons listed in the previous paragraph. Now, you do have the right not to answer the question, but the issue is that they fail to see that the question on the application is not asking them to forgo their mantra or motto. It’s not asking them to deny their philosophy or change their mindset.

It’s just a simple question. Do you have a disability?

Now, I do understand that people with disabilities may have issues with this word. Considering it has about 67 different connotations, I understand the confusion. I also understand that having a disability may have been the reason for having a difficult childhood. It may have been responsible for any bullying that occurred. It might even have been the reason for resentment with family and friends. Personally, my most uncomfortable and embarrassing moments have come from my own family.

What must be remembered is that not wanting to acknowledge having a disability should not dissuade you from completing the survey or checking the box. Please realize that when you are asked if you have a disability on a survey or a school application as an example, it is imperative that you check the box.

By checking the box you help our society address issues such as complete streets, inclusive healthy communities, worksite wellness, and person first language. Capturing accurate numbers of disability population can help schools, businesses and organizations, receive grants to better serve our society in regards to 504 issues and educational services.

At the end of the day, there is nothing wrong not wanting to be regarded as a person with a disability. But checking the disability box and being counted as a person with a disability serves a greater purpose. If you can’t see it for a better today, then hopefully it will be seen with a better tomorrow, for everyone.

Why would YOU not want to check the box?

NCHPAD articles:

http://www.nchpad.org/1207/5840/Resources~to~Build~an~Inclusive~Healthy~Community

http://www.nchpad.org/341/1999/Best~Practice~of~Inclusive~Services~~The~Value~of~Inclusion

http://www.nchpad.org/87/640/Opening~Doors~~Why~Fitness~Facilities~Should~Make~Room~for~People~With~Disabilities

http://www.nchpad.org/539/2479/Safe~Routes~to~School~~~A~Great~Way~to~Get~Youth~with~and~without~Disabilities~More~Active

http://www.nchpad.org/1223/5876/A~Culture~of~Inclusion~in~Worksite~Wellness

Person first language: http://rtcil.org/guidelines.shtml

Author: Bob Lujano