I posed the question on twitter asking people if they thought the word “handicap” was offensive. It was always my understanding that it was offensive when referring to a person… and yet, I realized how often I heard people using the term to refer to things such as parking spaces, bathroom stalls, seating in a theater and most strangely to me, to people. It made me wonder if perhaps, “handicap” was more politically correct to the larger population than I originally thought (which by the way doesn’t make it “okay”). The discussion that came from this question was quite interesting… so here are some tweets that brought up some valid points. I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments below.
I don’t know, for me it’s more like how it’s used and who uses it, not the context. So I don’t think it’s ever really appropriate but I’m not always offended by it either.
It depends on the conversation and how the word is used. Like most words now can be offensive depending on the context of the conversation
C Money @NotoriousCMoney
People don’t like (the word ‘handicap’) because of the definition; “a circumstance that makes progress or success difficult”. I use it sometimes when talking to family. Most disabled people I’ve encountered, loathe “handicapped”. I use it out of habit. Growing up, that was term used everywhere. Parking,ramps,etc.
(Me) Always Spooning @Always_Spooning
“Handicap” which (to me has) always had the connotation as “limiting”.
Coffee Spoonie @CoffeeSpoonie
I (chose) mostly (offensive). I’ve seen people use it in reference to parking and accessible bathrooms and don’t find it offensive because that’s what they’re called (not the person’s fault). However, I don’t think it’s okay to describe a person as handicapped. I think it’s offensive to call a disability a “handicap” or to use it for anything but parking; “Wheel Chair accessible” is better.
The conversation then kind of moved towards trying to find a word or name for that was more fitting and less offensive.
Beth Johnston @bethrajohnston
I like the idea of (‘wheelchair accessible’ instead of the word ‘handicap’) but not everyone who uses disabled parking is in a wheelchair…& it invalidates invisible illnesses a bit.
I don’t like the term (‘differently abled’). It makes me feel odd. By not defining “accessible” it takes everyone into account. Isn’t that what we’re actually after?
Coffee Spoonie @CoffeeSpoonie
I 100% agree (the term ‘handicap’) contributes to society’s narrow idea of what Disability looks like but so does ‘differently abled’.
I have reffered to myself as handicap, but I am hesitate to call myself disabled. Just realized why. My doctor gave me documentation needed to get handicap parking. But government won’t classify me as disabled. Obviously that doesn’t mean I’m not disabled, but it has affected the way I veiw myself. Anyway just had a personal epiphany. But I will be more cautious about how I use the term handicap from now on.
Chronic Style Disorder @StyleDisorder
it seems to be a US thing. It’s seen as old fashioned at best in the U.K. Everyone just uses disabled instead.
Also, @bethrajohnston states that in Australia the word “disabled” is used.
How Autistic Feels @AutisticFeels
(The term ‘handicap’ is) only acceptable when used as a horse racing term.
Lawyer Morty @FragilePrinxe
I definitely agree with you on when it’s not offensive, “handicap” parking, seating, etc. but don’t use it for people. it can be dehumanizing.
I hope you found this discussion as thought provoking. I think we concluded that the words “disabled” and “accessible” were acceptable replacement terms for American’s use of “handicap.” Please comment below with your response to the post. I’d love to hear from you. Thanks to everyone who participated and to everyone reading.