Contact details

As well as being a freelance writer I am also a qualified counsellor and I work for a low cost counselling service in Exeter and for the NHS Gender Clinic also in Exeter.

Simultaneously, I work as a Disability Member of the First Tier Tribunal, Social Entitlement Chamber sitting on disability benefit tribunals on an ad hoc basis.

As a writer I specialise in writing about disability and health.

My articles have been published in the Guardian, Times, OUCH! [BBC disability website], Disability Now, Broadcast, Lifestyle [Motability magazine], The Practising Midwife, 'Junior, Pregnancy & Baby', Writers' News, Able, Getting There [Transport for London magazine], Junior, Community Care, DPPi [Disability, Pregnancy & Parenthood International]. I have also had articles commissioned by Daily Mail.

For more information about me and for examples of my writing please see below.

If you would like me to write an article for your publication, about any aspect of disability, please do get in touch:

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mind your disability language!

Read an article yesterday, via the 'Isn't she talking yet?' blog - great name for a blog by India Knight who has a disabled child:

Anyway the article mentioned the word "harelip", it just leapt out at me from the page, I didn't really think people used it any more.... [the better term here if you are wondering is "cleft lip"] and I just thought, in case anyone was remotely interested I'd put a few pointers re the right language to use when it comes to talking/writing about disability:

'The disabled', 'The blind', 'The deaf' lumps people together, much better to use: 'Disabled people', 'blind/visually impaired people', 'deaf people'

NB Some people don't mind the term 'people with Disabilities', I prefer the more political term Disabled people - which refers to the way Disabled people are disabled by society more than anything else... that's the basis of the Medical vs Social Model of Disability argument, more on that another time!

'Able bodied' makes people sound super wonderful and able, better to say 'Non disabled'

The term 'Mentally handicapped' or heaven forbid 'retard' went out with the horse and cart, use 'people with learning difficulties/disabilities'

A better term than 'Mentally ill' is 'people with mental health problems'

Don't say 'Dwarf', say 'short statured person', 'short person', 'person with restricted growth'; personally I find "little person" too American/naff and 'vertically challenged' is just laughable

'Wheelchair bound' and 'confined to a wheelchair' are just plainly ridiculous because no one is bound/confined to a wheelchair [unless they are into S&M], the vast majority of wheelchair users see their wheelchair as something that liberates them and prefer to be called a 'wheelchair user'

The BBC OUCH! worst word poll found the word 'special' is right up there amongst the worst words to use when referring to disability, use 'segregated' [when talking about schools] or 'different' [when talking about needs]

Similarly most disabled people hate to be described as courageous, heroic,
inspiring, brave, just don't use them

Finally, 'Victim of', 'suffering from' makes big assumptions, better to say 'a person with/who has…' and fill in the disability/condition.

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