RE: A few thoughts on language.


Thanks for the response.

I had a look at the URL, the definition they are using seems competing. 

They are using it in an ageing context, but there appears to be nothing to indicate thats the exclusive use. Have i missed something?

I like this:

"Cognitive impairment is when a person has trouble
remembering, learning new things, concentrating,
or making decisions that affect their everyday
life. Cognitive impairment ranges from mild to
severe. With mild impairment, people may begin
to notice changes in cognitive functions, but still
be able to do their everyday activities. Severe
levels of impairment can lead to losing the ability
to understand the meaning or importance of
something and the ability to talk or write, resulting
in the inability to live independently."

Thats a really nice, diagnoses agnostic summery of cognitive impairments.

"I love the term neurodiversity. The problem is a lot of people do not know what it means."

Perhaps there is case for combining the ND related issue papers into a single issue paper, and from there explaining the term? We could also link to other definitions.

I think the W3C adopting the term would be highly valuable, we adopted the term at the BBC a few years ago ( - this site has some really neat videos made by Leena Hauge, BBC ND Lead). Its led to some interesting culture changes.


Jamie + Lion

From: lisa.seeman []
Sent: 13 July 2015 11:52
To: Jamie Knight
Subject: Re: A few thoughts on language.

Hi Jamie
This is an important issue, that we have been struggling with. The problem is that so many of the alternative terms are used to mean different things in different locations. For example LD means something else entirely in the US and Europe.

Cognitive impairment is being used in a limiting way in the US - see

I love the term neurodiversity. The problem is a lot of people do not know what it means.

All the best

Lisa Seeman

Athena ICT Accessibility Projects <>
LinkedIn<>, Twitter<>

---- On Mon, 13 Jul 2015 13:28:01 +0300 Jamie Knight<> wrote ----
Hello All,

Hope everyone is well. I was wondering if it would be worth discussing how we use language.

I see lots of references to 'cognitive disability'. I'm not sure that's the term we should be using.

I have several impairments due to my autistic traits. I also have a number of abilities due to the same.

However It's the environment that limits my ability to do things and thus my 'disability' is environmental.

To use a physical metaphor. If someone in unable to walk (an impairment) and uses assistive technology (a wheelchair) and the environment is inclusive (lifts, ramps etc) then they are not disabled. The impairment becomes as relevant as their eye colour.

In most of the issue papers I have seen we break down challenges by impairment. So perhaps we could adopt the term cognitive impairment.

Additionally, for some the term is neurodiversity. ND respects someone for being different but also part of normal variation, it rejects the medicalisation of a set of common traits or reactions.

I think It's a subtle but important change in language.

I have impairments for sure. But that does not mean I should be disabled by the them.

What do you think?

Jamie + Lion

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Received on Monday, 13 July 2015 12:43:27 UTC