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RE: other expression for disabled people (Don't worry Graham, I'm bringing it back on topic)

From: Jon Hanna <jon@spinsol.com>
Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2001 11:17:07 +0100
To: <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Hash: SHA1

> Personally I prefer to speak about "PEOPLE WITH SOME LIMITED 
> make clear that this people are not limited  in all their 
> functions . Though
> this often is thought as I have heard.  I never found disabled a 
> nice word,
> but I am Dutch.

This relates to one of the reasons why I prefer to think of
accessibility wrt the web in terms that include people using
text-only browsers, mobile devices, etc. as well as people with
disabilities. While using a text-only browser I am, in web terms,
someone with limited functions, and the fact that I can choose to see
images as well is irrelevant at that moment.

The most non-PC term for people with disabilities; "handicapped", is
actually useful here, though of course I'd never use it to refer to a
person's innate abilities.
People aren't inherently handicapped, but they are handicapped when
society and technology doesn't allow them to do something. Technology
can remove handicaps (Many of the "able-bodied" on this list would be
handicapped in a hunter-gatherer society as without glasses they
would find many everyday tasks difficult or impossible, in this
society they're not even considered disabled, because we have the
technology to completely remove that handicap), and it can cause
handicaps by allowing some people to do something and not allowing,
or actively preventing, others.
Similarly society can remove or create handicaps in terms of how it
treats people with disabilities (or for that matter people that
society discriminates against).

In terms of an accessible web I think our main focus is not so much
to assist people with disabilities, but not to handicap any of our
users. If something makes use of our websites more difficult than it
needs to be then there is a problem there, whether this is because of
a physical or cerebral disability isn't important, or even any of our

In terms of accessibility and computers in general there are two
focii, one is the same as above, and another is to actively remove
handicaps, ideally as much as glasses stop myopia from being a

Where people with disabilities should be our only concern is in
legislation that mandates the above as a matter of justice and civil

There are two implications to this way of looking at accessibility on
the web in a wider sense than just working to help people with
One is a matter of general attitudes to people with disabilities. We
live in discriminatory societies that quite frankly don't like people
with disabilities. This dislike ranges from patronising pity, through
selfishness to outright fascism. The more we can work to
technologically assist people with disabilities as part of a wider
perspective that also assists other people the more integrated
attitudes will be in society as a whole.
Another implication of this is the flip side of my argument. Just as
working to enable sites for everyone will include enabling them for
people with disabilities, so enabling sites for people with
disabilities will enable them for other people as well, which is
useful to remember if you find yourself having to justify the cost of
work that will increase a site's accessibility (as a "real-world"
example, only shops that are wheelchair accessible get my custom, as
I'm normally pushing at least one of my children in a push-chair.
While the selfish or the plain broke businessperson may decide they
can do without people with some disabilities they are usually losing
a greater market than they immediately realise as well).

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Received on Friday, 24 August 2001 06:15:19 UTC

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