Disabled Clients, or Clients that Happened to be Disabled? – That IS the question

The recent media frenzy over the discovery of several persons in the Philadelphia area being kidnapped, tortured, and held against their will by criminals who were stealing their Social Security checks brings to mind the common mistake of not using correct terminology in describing persons, who happen to have disabilities.

The articles I have read and the news clips I’ve watched all describe these victims as “disabled” persons. Since when did a person’s classification go first? Several of these victims were of different races, different sexes and statistically probably different sexual orientation. However, the media still forgets that classifications go last. People are the victims of accidents and crimes on an hourly basis. Describing them as black, white, Hispanic, male, female, gay, straight, first is inappropriate. No more so than employees, friends or acquaintances should not be described by their race, sex or disability first. I have many friends who happen to be black, white, Hispanic, male, female, gay, straight, disabled, nondisabled. The same rules of description apply to persons who happen to have disabilities. They are not: a blind client, a white client, a disabled client, a black client, a deaf client, a male client, a mentally or emotionally impaired client, or a female client. They are persons, clients or friends who happen to be part of a particular group. The classification always goes last, as that is the least important part of a description.

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