The C Word

Today Dignity for Disability launched its “C Word” campaign, which is all about communicating with, and about, people with disabilities.

Dignity for Disability has created straightforward guidelines for achieving respectful and meaningful communication, and is calling for them to be disseminated through government channels.

“People with disabilities are often spoken about in either pitying and offensive terms,” said Party Leader Kelly Vincent MLC. “And many of us often find those communicating with us make incorrect assumptions – thinking we are not intelligent, for example – and don’t treat us equally in conversation.”

“Every time disrespectful or inappropriate language about people with disabilities is used in the media, or by politicians, or in general conversation, it reinforces untrue stereotypes and makes it more likely that we will be discriminated against.”

A communication guide released today by the party offers some of the simple ways to communicate with people with disabilities and what kind of language is appropriate to use when discussing disability issues.

“There are some very simple things to keep in mind when communicating with or about people with disabilities,” said Ms Vincent.

“If you remember that the person comes first – we are not defined by our disability – that often helps when constructing terms to describe a disability. It also if useful to remember that each person is an expert on themselves, so the best way to find out how a person likes to communicate or be spoken to is by asking them. Additionally, it’s good to keep in mind that we are not extraordinary if we can do simple, daily tasks.  We have other skills and talents, just like the rest of the population, and would like to be acknowledged for these – not for being able to cook our own meals or shower daily.”

Dignity for Disability will be distributing the guidelines to the media and through government departments, asking that all staff consider these ideals during their work. The party will also lobby to have a disability communication component added to South Australia’s primary school curriculum, so that all children are given the chance to understand and practice better communication with and about people with disabilities.