Group 1 Tab
Isn't it time for some common sense, new ways of thinking, and good news about disability issues? You'll find it all here!
Sign up for our free E-Newsletter on the left side of the page. Click here for archived newsletters.
If you use a screenreader and experience difficulties with coded security boxes, please call 1-210-320-0678 for assistance. We're working on finding security with decent audio output, and we appreciate your patience.
People First Language
People First Language (PFL) represents more respectful, accurate ways of communicating. People with disabilities are not their diagnoses or disabilities; they are people, first.
PFL is not about "political correctness," it's about good manners and The Golden Rule. "Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can never hurt you," is a very harmful myth. Words do matter! They can raise or lower expectations; hurt or help; crush hopes or create dreams; and so much more.
Now it's time to extend that courtesy to the boys, girls, men, and women in our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, and communities who happen to have disabilities.
Click here for a variety of Kathie's People First Language articles. Isn't it time for more respectful and accurate language for all?
New Ways of Thinking
Yes, Disability is Natural—but what do apples have to do with disability?
One of the five apples is green. One American in five has a disability, making people with disabilities the largest minority group and the only group that anyone can join at any time: at birth or through an accident, illness, or the aging process.
A green apple is more like red apples than different; a person with a disability is more like people without disabilities than different. The U.S. Developmental Disabilities Act states, "Disability is a natural part of the human experience..." This is your source for Kathie Snow's life-changing articles and products that can generate positive change. Visit the different EXPLORE sections for a variety of thought-provoking, informative articles. Visit the Disability is Natural Online Store for Kathie's life-changing book and other unique products that promote new ways of thinking about disability!
THE DISABILITY IS NATURAL PHILOSOPHY . . .
Everything on this website, as well as the presentations, books, articles, and products by me (Kathie Snow) reflects the introduction in the federal Developmental Disabilities Act:
“Disability is a natural part of the human experience that does not diminish the right of individuals with developmental disabilities to enjoy the opportunity to live independently, enjoy self-determination, make choices, contribute to society, and experience full integration and inclusion in the economic, political, social, cultural, and educational mainstream of American society.”
Did you notice that the words above describe the characteristics in the lives of people who do not have disabilities? And that’s the point, isn’t it?
Thus, it’s time to acknowledge that people with disabilities are more like people without disabilities than different. They need to be known by their names, not their diagnoses. It’s time to focus on similarities, instead of differences. It’s also time to recognize and value the strengths, abilities, interests, hopes, and dreams of people who have been diagnosed with conditions that are categorized as disabilities, instead of focusing on their so-called problems or deficits. We need to move away from the status quo and embrace new ways of thinking.
There is no room for pity or sympathy for people with developmental disabilities. Instead, we need to work toward equality of opportunity, inclusion in all areas of life, and ensure that people with disabilities (like people without disaabilities) have the tools they need for success. These tools can include assistive technology devices, supports, accommodations, and/or modifications at home, school, work, play, and anywhere else.
Every person in our society is born included. It's the natural state of being; it's the default position! We can and should do better than segregating children or adults with disabilities and “placing” them in any kind of “special” settings: self-contained classrooms in public schools, “special” college classrooms, segregated recreational activities, "special needs" religious settings, day programs, sheltered workshops, group homes, and/or any other type of environment that's not part of the mainstream of American society. The 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education found that "...the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." Yet half a century later, many continue to support separate places for people with disabilities. That Supreme Court recognized the dangers of segregation for children of color; there are similar dangers to children and adults with disabilities who are segregated, and to our society as a whole.
Does any person choose to become segregated? Most likely not. So how does segregation occur? As a result of antiquated beliefs, attitudes, perceptions, and policies, a person with a disability is assessed, evaluated, and tested. Then, a “team” comprised of family members, educators, and/or other professionals use the results of these tests to determine that the person must be taken out of his/her natural environment and “placed” into a different (“special”/segregated) setting in order to receive the “help” or “special services” that others have deemed necessary.
But there’s no reason to segregate a person based on the presence of a disability. Whatever help or assistance a person may need can be provided to the person in his/her natural environments. Those services can be brought to the person instead of making the person “go to” the location of those services. Alternatively, a person with a disability could choose to access the abundant supply of generic services and natural supports that exist in every community, instead of becoming dependent on the service system. During the past 40 years, our nation has passed a variety of laws that mandate equality of opportunity, non-discrimination, inclusion, and more, but too many of us are still operating from old attitudes, perceptions, and policies.
Over time, our society has changed in many ways: we're learning to value, welcome, and include individuals that were marginalized, devalued, ignored, and/or segregated from the mainstream (such as people of various ethnicities and/or religions, females, people in the LGBT community, etc.). But somehow, we continue to find it acceptable to segregate people with disabilities (who are also people of different ethnicities and/or religions, females, people in the LGBT community, etc.). What will it take to move beyond the status quo in the disability arena? A change in attitudes, perceptions, actions, and policies.
The articles on this website, as well as Kathie’s books and presentations, provide ideas and strategies to ensure the natural state of inclusion that every person is born into is maintained. Explore and learn, and in the process you’ll be contributing to changing the status quo and creating a world where everyone belongs. Isn’t that what you want for yourself? To belong, to matter, to experience equality with your friends and neighbors, and to enjoy the freedom to pursue your destiny? It’s really not rocket science or brain surgery, so let’s do it!