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Watch your language at the Paralympics

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Watch your language at the Paralympics

Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun

Published: Friday, March 10, 2006

TURIN -- When referring to Patrick Jarvis, please do not refer to him as a "gimp" even though he does. And when you talk about the fact he is an amputee, please refrain from saying he's got a "stump," even though he does.

"I can say I am a gimp. You cannot. I'm a member of the club," joked Jarvis, the past-president of the Canadian Paralympic Committee. "When around my friends, I don't say 'My residual limb is bothering me' I say, 'My stump's acting up.'"

Humour aside, there is an entire culture of language that has developed around describing people with disabilities, and it doesn't include terms like "confined to a wheelchair," "afflicted with," "disease" or "spastic."

Those are all terms the Canadian Paralympic Committee has suggested the media should drop from their lexicon.

The Paralympic movement first developed around the concept of people with disabilities engaging in sport as part of a rehabilitation program. But it has also taken on a powerful and important role in helping to shape and change able-bodied people's views of those who have some form of disability.

There is perhaps no greater theatre for delivering that message of inclusivity than the Olympics and Paralympics, the two largest sporting events in the world. Thousands of journalists writing or talking about the Olympics are exposed to issues around the Paralympics and, by default, the language they use affects public perception.

"For the public, it is now about awareness, about how to talk about and to people with a disability or disabilities," said Jarvis, who lost his right arm in a meat grinder accident when he was eight. "It is much broader than just sport."

For the record, here are some of the CPC's suggestions to the media:

- Use: "An athlete with a disability" instead of: disabled, handicapped, crippled, or suffer from. ("Not all people with a disability actually suffer.")

- Use: "An amputee" instead of "stumps." ("Connotes the person's limbs were cut like a tree.")

- Use: "Condition" instead of "disease". ("Many disabilities, such as cerebral palsy and spinal cord injuries, are not caused by illness or disease.")

- Use: "Person/athlete who uses a wheelchair" instead of "confined to a wheelchair." ("Most people with a disability do not see themselves as afflicted."

- Use: "Person with cerebral palsy" instead of "spastic."

Jarvis, who is a member of the International Paralympic Committee and is also on the board of the 2010 Winter Olympics, said the simplest thing to do is ask the person when you don't know how to describe them.

"Don't be inhibited. Ask. They'll tell you what they like," he said. "If you [the athlete] want to be integrated and accepted, you have a responsibility to tell people the right way to refer to yourself."

Of course, there are exceptions, but none that an able-bodied person can use. That's the domain of people like Jarvis, who admits many people with a disability use politically incorrect language.

"We can be totally irreverent within our group. It's a function of the coping mechanism," he said.

Taken from this page of the Vancouver Sun website.

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Thanks for posting that, Afet. :)

Use: "An amputee" instead of "stumps." ("Connotes the person's limbs were cut like a tree.")

But, did you know that in some circles, it's not even politically correct to refer to someone as 'an amputee'? It seems that the correct term is 'a person with an amputation'. Is it political correctness gone mad? I'm not sure, but I know I'd rather people knew me for who I am.

Lizzie :)

PS For anyone who's interested, here's a link to the Paralympic Winter Games.

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Personally I'm Biped Challenged :lol: :lol:

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I'm a deaf bilateral BK amputee (that hears with a cochlear implant) ...

... What the hell does that make me in politically correct terms??? :wub: :lol:

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Easy.....

Bilateral And Deaf

B.A.D :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Easy.....

Bilateral And Deaf

B.A.D :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

:o :wub: :o

Oh! You know me too well already!! :lol: ;)

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I attended a session at the ACA conf last year where correct terms were discussed. When he was telling us that amputee was wrong, I was cracking up. Excuse me...my leg was amputated...I am an amputee...HELLO. But I was wrong. :o I am a person with limb difference. Okay...whatever ;)

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A person with alternative ambulatory and auditory means. He says in his most earnest and politically correct social worker voice :lol:

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Oh no.I can almost hear Muz scrambling back to answer that :blink::blink:

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Maybe but it shouldn't offend anybody. Notice the use of the word alternative as opposed to different. We wouldn't want anybody to be perceived as different as that implies a disadvantage and thats definitely not allowed. :)

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Maybe but it shouldn't offend anybody. Notice the use of the word alternative as opposed to different. We wouldn't want anybody to be perceived as different as that implies a disadvantage and thats definitely not allowed. :)

Muz, have you taken a Disability Discrimination Awareness course recently, by any chance?? :blink::blink:

You seem to have swallowed the handbook! :lol: ;) :P

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OMG what is the world coming to? ;)

This is getting totally tragic; way too much political correctness-fact is fact :blink:

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A new musician came up to me once and blurted out "oh - you're the agent with the foot impediment".

Erm...... :blink:

That was a bit odd I think.

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Hope no one took my comments seriously. I can't stand all this PC crap. Mangling the English language so that we don't offend anyone is just plain crazy. One of the reasons that English is so widely spoken is that it is very descriptive without resorting to long phrases. eg I am a male amputee is much simpler than saying I am a person with a Y chromosome whose leg was shortened surgically.

Just read in my local paper that the local secondary school is not allowed to have a pedestrian crossing at a dangerous bend in the road because the entrance to the school at that point is not suitable for people with a "physical impairment". What they forget to mention is the fact that the school is built on a hill (as are most buildings in this town) and so none of the entrances are suitable anyway. Result: Kids lives are put at risk for the sake of political correctness :blink::ph34r::angry:

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I've just had the motorbike adapted to accommodate my limb difference.

So does that mean I've ... Gimped my ride :lol:

O No! That was too good! And too bad a pun!! :P :D

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I've just had the motorbike adapted to accommodate my limb difference.

What the hell's a limb difference anyway. Everybody's got that, unless you're born with two left feet :blink::blink:

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Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary

[I]Main Entry: 1stump Pronunciation Guide

Pronunciation: stmp

Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English stumpe; akin to Old High German stumpf stump and perhaps to Middle English stampen to stamp

Date: 14th century

1 a : the basal portion of a bodily part remaining after the rest is removed b : a rudimentary or vestigial bodily part

2 : the part of a plant and especially a tree remaining attached to the root after the trunk is cut

3 : a remaining part : STUB[/i]

Websters Universal College Dictionary

stump (stump), n 1. the lower end of a tree trunk or plant left standing after the upper part falls or is cut off. 2. the part of a limb of the body remaining after the rest has been cut off. 3. a part of a broken or decayed tooth left in the gum. 4. any base part or short remnant remaining after the main part has been removed; stub. 5. an artificial leg. 6. Usu., stumps, informal, the legs

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Monoped for me!

Below I attach the famous one legged man sketch from Peter Cook & Dudley Moore :)

The greatest ever satire on our impairment!

Spiggot

Another sketch from Messrs Moore & Cook

Cecil Couch, proprietor of the Couch Casting Agency, is on the telephone to his secretary, offstage.

Couch: Stella my love, would you send in the next auditioner please? Thank you darling, very much.

Spiggot: [hopping in towards Couch] Er, hello!

C: Hello indeed! How do you do?

S: Not so bad, ta muchly

C: Nice of you to come along. Sit you down, do.

S: [sits] Don't mind if I do.

C: Er, now, let's see, Mr. Spiggot, is it not?

S: That's right. Spiggot by name and Spiggot by nature.

C: So, Mr. er ... Spiggot, you are auditioning, are you not, for the role of Tarzan?

S: Yes, that's right.

C: Well, Mr. Spiggot, I couldn't help noticing, pretty well immediately .... that you are a one-legged man.

S: Oh, you noticed that?

C: When you've been in the business as long as I have, Mr. Spiggot, you get to notice these little details, almost instinctively.

S: Yes, yes, of course ....

C: Now, Mr. Spiggot, you - a one-legged man - are applying for the role of Tarzan ....

S: Yes, quite right.

C: ..... a role traditionally associated with a two-legged .... artiste.

S: Yes, I suppose so.

C: And yet you, a unidexter, are applying for the role ...

S: Yes, right

C: ...a role for which two legs would seem to be the minimum requirement.

Well, Mr. Spiggot, need I point out with too much emphasis where your deficiency lies, as regards landing the role?

S: Yes. Yes, I think you ought to.

C: Perhaps I ought. Perhaps I ought. Need I say with too much stress that you are deficient in the .... er ....leg division ?

S: The leg division?

C: The leg division, Mr. Spiggot. You are deficient in the leg division - to the tune of one.

Now, your right leg I like.

S: Ah!

C: It's a lovely leg for the role! As soon as I saw it come in, I said to myself "Hello, what a lovely leg for the role." I got nothing against your right leg. The trouble is, neither have you. It is on the left leg that you fall down.

S: You mean it's inadequate?

C: Your left leg is, at the least, inadequate, Mr. Spiggot. And in my view, the public is not yet ready ...

S: Oh?

C: ... the public is not yet ready for a one-legged interpretation of this historic role. They are not yet ready for a one-legged Tarzan swingin' through the jungly tendrils shouting "Hello, Jane" ....

S: Yes, well ...

C: .... however great the charm of the performance may be.

S: Oh well ....

C: But do not despair, Mr. Spiggot! You know you score heavily over an artiste with no legs at all.

S: Really?

C: Yes. By about 100%.

S: Really?

C: Oh yes. If a legless man come in here demanding the role, I'd have no hesitation in saying Go away! Hop off!

S: So there's still hope?

C: There is always hope, Mr. Spiggot. I mean, if we get no two legged artistes in here in, say, the next 18 months, there is every chance that you, a unidexter, will be the very type of person this agency will be attempting to contact.

S: Oh, that's marvellous.

C: I just sorry we can't be more definite at this stage. You must understand, the producer and director are very demandin' people ..

S: Yes, yes, of course

C: ..... and the economy isn't looking too good.

S: [spiggot begins to leave] I know, I know.

C: And what with the war we've been laden with - bums on seats are just much harder to find.

S: Quite so, Quite so.

C: That's the spirit, Mr. Spiggot. Don't call us, we'll call you. And don't give up your day job, Mr. Spiggot

[Exit Spiggot]

C: And - don't break a leg.

[A crashing sound off-stage. Couch moves back towards his desk, mopping his brow. He lifts the receiver and speaks to receptionist.]

Stella darling, now I've seen everything! Be a dear and send in the next auditioner. What's his name? What's that? Schwarzenegger? Schwarzenegger? Never heard of him. Send him in anyway, Stella, there's a love. :D

Love it :lol:

PJ

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The greatest ever satire on our impairment!

Yes, I agree Pete & Doug were wonderful satirists, but, I disagree about the impairment, as I don't see how missing one, two, three or four limbs can be an impairment...it's just the way I am...and I am happy with the way I am. B)

Lizzie :)

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The greatest ever satire on our impairment!

Yes, I agree Pete & Doug were wonderful satirists, but, I disagree about the impairment, as I don't see how missing one, two, three or four limbs can be an impairment...it's just the way I am...and I am happy with the way I am. B)

Lizzie :)

Defination of Disability

A person has a disability if he or she has a physical or mental impairment

That has a substanticial and long term adverse effect on his or her ability to carry out normal

Day to day activities.

European Union

Hi Lizzie

When I give training (Mainly to non disabled) I tend to stick to this mandate.

Like yourself I don't really agree with it. But for the want of a better term impairment serves the need.

The trouble with slang terms Amp, Crip, Geek, etc is they are used in a negitive way, and are used by people, lets say the press who have no understanding of the disabled persons issues.

I have been called everthing from a Raspberry ripple to Long John Silver, but I really like to be called Paul, who lives with a mobility issue.

Language is fundimentally what our culture is based on, we have a duty to those who will follow us to use positive phrases, at events such as the olympics it is cucial, that the right world wide agreed termonology is used, guessing what impairment somebody may have, often leads to offence if it's not accurate.

We all know we are amps so we call ourselves what we please, when I am in my professional enviroment I don't like people making the wrong assumption, I may have one leg, I may have none, I may have mental health issues etc.

Society should not judge, just be aware that this person has different issues. :)

I'm giving training tomorrow, luckerly I have a film which illustrates this much better than I ever could!

PJ :D

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