Words mean so much in conveying perceptions (June 3)

I was a little upset on the weekend.

I just arrived at a sporting event when someone asked: “Where’s your handler?

My reaction: “I am not a dog.”

I have cerebral palsy and use a wheelchair. I have personal care assistants, professionals in their own right, who assist me with daily activities. Sometimes, they accompany me at events I attend.

The person who asked where my “handler” knows I that I have people who help me.

And why I was so upset was the word they chose.

Handler. 

Makes me cringe.caregiver

Yet, I should know better, I suppose. Because words can often magnify a disability rather than accepting it.

“Handler” is in the same vain as “wheelchair  bound” or “confined to a wheelchair.” In my view “wheelchair user” is the right terminology because there aren’t any negative images conjured up.

People with disabilities are part of society. Moreover, with our aging population, the personal care assistant industry is going to increase.

Personal care attendants need to be respected and viewed as professionals. The word “handler” has no place in a conversation around personal care assistants.

I find it an incredible insult to people with disabilities. I was extremely upset Saturday night.

But that’s only me. I want to know what you think.

 

 

 

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