exor674: Computer Science is my girlfriend (Default)
[personal profile] exor674
I apologize if this offends anyone, it is not meant that way, I promise...

Why is there an expectation to avoid subjects that might bring up somebodies disability?

If someone has chronic pain, why is it expected to avoid slang like "it won't hurt to..."
If someone can't walk, why is it expected to avoid subjects like "I took a long walk in the rain today"
If someone is deaf, why is it expected to not talk about the new music artist you found or the concert you went to last night?

If somebody has a disability, why is it expected to treat them differently in the way you would converse with them? (by converse I mean communicate in a way the person in question can parse and understand)
Why is it expected to treat them differently? (yaknow, except accommodations like not requesting somebody in a wheelchair to grab a box off the top shelf -- that kinda "treat differently" makes sense)

It seems to *me* that this kinda a form of discrimination against people with "disabilities"... Treating them differently just because they have X. I get if the specific person asks you to avoid the subject... I just don't get it as an up-front expectation.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-09-25 06:36 pm (UTC)
leora: A girl in a garden on a swing. The setting is dusky and somewhat fantasyish. (reveries)
From: [personal profile] leora
I think there are a few key issues.

First, it's annoying when people make assumptions, so the rules are different when discussing yourself versus talking about someone else. If you're talking about yourself and saying, "it won't hurt me to do that" or "it's easy for me to read that sign from here" or whatever, that's less likely to be annoying than if you tell someone else what they can do. It's really annoying to be told what you can do when the person is wrong. So, if someone else says, "you'll easily be able to see the building once you get off the train" well, that can be an obnoxious assumption. And even worse if they have no vision at all. Likewise, telling someone else that a place is easily affordable rather than telling them the price range is really annoying as "easily affordable" is highly variable.

Next there is rubbing someone's face in it. This isn't likely to be an issue if you just say something like, I'm really enjoyed my trip to the art museum. But if you're regularly discussing the stuff you do and the other person can't, well, then you may want to ask them how they feel about it. Personally, I just accept it, because if I asked my friends to not tell me things about their activities that I can't do, then there would be hardly any communication at all. Sure I get envious now and then, but I can handle it. And my disabilities are so extreme that it would destroy most ability to have a conversation. For example, you couldn't talk about school, work, sports, going for a leisurely walk, working through interesting math problems, playing on swings, riding most rides at an amusement park, leaving the house on a regular basis, etc. It just becomes ridiculous. I accept that life goes on for other people, and I don't want to be entirely cut out of it, although I don't really have the energy to be much a part of it.

Finally, there are metaphors. Different people with disabilities have different feelings about this. Most blind people will find it more annoying if you avoid expressions like, "Nice to see you again". But most other disabled groups seem to dislike these. So, saying that something is "lame" to mean it's bad or pathetic is disliked by some people. Similarly calling someone or yourself a "spaz" or a "retard" is often considered rude (unless you actually are spastic, but don't call someone who is a "spaz"). Me, I turn a blind eye toward most of those things. But some people dislike using disabilities as metaphors for badness or ignorance.

Honestly, I'm going to think, "if only I weren't disabled" whether you actively state things you can do or not. So, I'm not too worried about being reminded that I'm disabled. I'm really not about to forget. And I do try to focus on the good aspects of my life. Disability sucks, but it didn't remove all of the goodness from my life.

On a side note, the first issue means that really it should be taken into consideration when talking with anyone. What's annoying isn't that someone didn't know I was disabled when they assumed that I could do something, but that they regularly assume that everyone is as able-bodied as they are when they talk. I want people to not make that assumption in general. To not assume they know what someone else can or can't do. To say things like, well, it's 4 blocks away and I consider it easy walking distance, you can decide if that's a comfortable walking distance for you. Rather than people saying, oh, it's definitely within walking distance. "walking distance" is an annoyingly variable concept, much like "reasonably priced" or "affordable".

(no subject)

Date: 2009-09-25 10:47 pm (UTC)
leora: a statue of a golden snake swallowing its own tail. (ouroboros)
From: [personal profile] leora
Throw out the never ask questions rule. That's a crap rule. However, you may want to learn to ask, "May I ask you something about your disability?" The key thing I've seen in disability communities is that people don't want to feel like they are obligated to explain. The explanation may be long and complex, and they may not feel up to going through it again. However, most people with disabilities are okay explaining things most of the time. If you're willing to see if they feel up to a question, and also willing to accept, "Actually, that's really complicated." or "I don't want to go into that" then generally asking is the best course if the issue is coming up. Just don't act as if you're entitled to an answer and you should usually be okay.

As to offensive words like "spaz", well, you won't know every offensive term. I have found terms that are racist when reading through lists of such things that I had absolutely no idea had racial connotations. I think the best course is to just accept that you'll mess up sometimes, but strive to remove such terms when you can. For example, I have removed "Indian summer" and "gypped" from my general usage, since both have offensive roots.

The problem with "spaz" is that it does refer to a medical condition and those who have that condition usually hear it as an insult. ~They~ know what it means. The problem with "lame" is that the root is to deliberately imply that this thing is worthless or bad just like someone who can't walk very well. The history of how people with disabilities have been treated is really, really bad. It wasn't that long ago that lots of them were forcibly sterilized and/or systematically murdered. To this day people with disabilities get all sorts of bizarre and often condescending treatment that implies they are not a full human being. With such an environment, it's easy for those implications to be read into things. So even though you personally mean well, it won't necessarily come across.

And I do think you can say things like, "I see what you mean" or "It won't hurt for me to do this", but I do think telling someone else doing something won't hurt them is likely best only if you have good reason to believe you are right. But it's also part of the general category that one should be careful telling other people how they work.

I'm especially touchy about that because my mother has a bad habit of just making statements about how I feel about something or my reaction to something just based on how she thinks I should feel. The most bizarre example was we went to see a movie together and when it was over she turned to me and said, "You liked that." It wasn't a question. We hadn't had a chance to say anything about it. She had pretty much no basis for knowing my opinion of it, but there she was telling me what I thought. I prefer not to assume I know how someone else will feel or think about something.

But in general, I don't think you need to be too careful about avoiding things. The rubbing someone's face in it isn't likely to come up much. It'd be more like saying things like, "Jogging is great exercise and everyone should do it." to someone who can't walk. They're probably going to get annoyed at the second half since it excludes them from being part of "everyone" (Oh sorry, by "everyone" I just meant normal people, you know, the people who actually count) or it states that they should be jogging and tsk tsk that they no longer can do what they ought to do.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-09-26 09:15 am (UTC)
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azurelunatic
Regarding conversation about activities: yeah. One of my associates has a friend whose depression is made worse at every mention of a thing she can't do; on the converse, there are people who like to live vicariously through detailed and enthusiastic descriptions of things they can't do. It totally depends.


exor674: Computer Science is my girlfriend (Default)

September 2011


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