Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Words Matter (Part I)

Read the following and be honest about the images each phrase brings up for you.
  • the mentally ill
  • a mentally ill person
  • a person with a mental illness
Do you really get the same picture in your head for each one?  Do they really all bring up the same emotions for you?

Now try these.
  • a wheelchair-bound person
  • a person in a wheelchair
  • a person confined to a wheelchair
  • a person that uses a wheelchair
And now try this one:
  • a person
 How would you prefer that people refer to you?  How would you refer to yourself, if you had a mental illness or used a wheelchair?


  1. Interesting blog post. It's something I encounter at work. The editors at my company used to use words like "wheelchair bound" or "mentally ill" before people with disabilities complained and now we make sure our legal products all refer o them as a person who uses a wheel chair and a person with a mental illness. Its too much of a label otherwise and its dehumanizing to call them anything else.

    1. One reason many people that use wheelchairs don't like terms like "wheelchair-bound" or "confined to a wheelchair" is because, not only are they not truly bound to their chair, they don't feel confined or restricted by the chair. The chair allows them to go places and do things they would not otherwise be able to do. The chair is liberating for them, not confining.

  2. I mean I wear glasses but am I bound to them? No. And I've been diagnosed with depression so I guess I'm a person with a mental illness but I don't consider myself mentally ill. There's a huge difference.