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Discussion on: DEV Community: Ableist Language & Maintaining an Inclusive Environment

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jgaskins profile image
Jamie Gaskins

I'm gonna touch on a few of these terms you're balking at because, to put it bluntly, you're wrong.

"idiotic" - I mean, are we really going to get to a place where I can't call someone an idiot for doing something stupid...seems a little bit too far (yet again, may be a cultural thing)

Yes. People with various learning or speech disabilities are called this all the time specifically for having a learning or speech disability. Find a more appropriate word.

imbecile - instead use "dipshit"...I don't think I need to point out why this is not better.

I could copy my response to the previous one and it would still work. "Dipshit" isn't weaponized against people with learning or speech disabilities. Your assertion that it's not better is wrong.

"Morbidly obese" - they suggest "fat person". I think I will use a medical term instead of just being deliberately offensive. If somebody is classed as disabled purely due to their weight, they are "morbidly obese" and that is the medical condition that is related to their disability.

Speaking as a fat guy, I assure you that you can wield that word respectfully. "Obese" is indeed a medical term, but I could write an entire treatise on how biased doctors are against fat people and how that term is weaponized against folks like me with endomorphic bodies — genetically predisposed to retain more muscle and fat. In fact, I wrote a tweet thread about it just a few months ago. Even when I could physically outperform half the people that were seen as "healthy", I was still fat, people still gave me shit about my size, and doctors still chalked up every ailment I had to being fat.

And when you consider the sheer quantity of concern trolling on the internet ("I'm not making fun of them, it's just not healthy!"), the word "obese" has lost its meaning. Feel free to call me large, big, chunky, or fat if you can manage to do it respectfully but I'd prefer you didn't say "overweight" and absolutely never, ever call me obese. Ever.

"Special Needs" - which is the preferred term in the UK for children who have a learning impairment.

Have you asked folks with learning disabilities what terms they prefer? Maybe start there.


As you might have picked up on, these all quite literally hit close to home for me, so this is where I had to stop reading. You're absolutely wrong about all of these and what I did read was pure self-righteous concern-trolling and "I don't wanna stop using this word", so I won't be reading the rest, but I wasn't going to silently ignore this shit and pretend it was okay.

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inhuofficial profile image
InHuOfficial • Edited

Could we have a civil discussion about this without the personal attacks?

I understand that this "hit close to home" for you based on what you have said and believe me when something riles me up and goes against my principles I will put every bit of passion into a comment as well, without much thought as to the tone! But it was uncalled for and you are making assumptions about me.

Anyway, lets see if we can get to understand each other a little better!

Firstly, it is unfortunate that the first part of the comment was upsetting to you to an extent you felt you could not continue.

If you had read just two more sentences you would have realised why I pointed those items out.

Also I hope those points raised show that you cannot police ableism without context and you can't possibly have cultural context on a site like this. ​

Context and culture were at the core of the whole message.

If I was to direct any of those terms at you, someone else or a group in a derogatory way or with any malice...I entirely agree it is disgusting behaviour.

But if those are terms that I am using to explain a point and they fit with the culture in my Country then who do you side with?

I will not cover the first three points you disagreed with, as I do not want to cause you any more offence and I fear no matter how carefully I tread on those points I will upset you further.

But the "Special Needs" difference in culture is quite clear from nidirect.gov.uk/articles/children-... - a government run website and bbc.co.uk/news/topics/cnrxy1nq9kxt... the BBC, just a couple of examples of how it is culturally appropriate in a professional setting in the UK.

This yet again reinforces the point I made about cultural differences.

Have you asked folks with learning disabilities what terms they prefer? Maybe start there.

I have asked many many people with many many different disabilities what they prefer, it is my day job, I work in the space, I teach about accessibility both in the digital world and in the physical world. When was the last time you asked someone with a disability what language they prefer?

Oh and the answer is "everyone has their own preferred language", sometimes the words they choose could even be seen as offensive.

For example "Aspie" as a self identifying term is loved by some, hated by others...another example of how do you police that? Telling someone they cannot use a term they identify with is as bad, if not worse, than someone being offended at a term provided it is not said with malice or intention to harm.

And as for the other reason why I am so against it without some rules or guidance is that this is a space where people are ignorant and unaware of what prejudice people with disabilities face.

Education is key to improving this. Do you know what the number one reason people give for not learning more about disability, inclusion and the barriers society imposes is? Fear of saying the wrong thing and offending someone.

Your comment pretty much confirms that point, as if I hadn't been in this space for a long time, I would have immediately thought "nope, don't join discussions on disability and inclusion, everyone will get mad at me" and never learn about the more important aspects of inclusion than innocent misuses of language.

I hope you do read the rest of the article, you already reached the end of the bit that was offending you and the rest of it is far less likely to cause you offence, it would be interesting to have your opinion (good or bad) on the rest of the points I made and see if we have some common ground we can build upon.

P.s. as you are a member of forem (which makes your condescension and attacking comment 100 times worse by the way) I hope you would appreciate that on dev.to/t/a11y/top/year my articles appear 7 times in the top 50 or so posts, I would hope it is clear I am trying to make a positive contribution, both to the DEV community and to accessibility in general, and my intentions are not "self-righteous concern-trolling".

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steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao • Edited

Please take a chill pill as InHubOfficial and I has mentioned.There is differences in culture on the use of words like for Chinese being called "Fat/Obese" can be either a praise or shame depending on the situation/people it is used on.

Since we can either assume people who is "Fat/Obese" as someone who is blessed, living a good life, healthy and has abundance of resources or the usual offensive intent that is normally talked about. Heck we even have a phrase especially to a baby called 白白胖胖 to say to the parent they have a healthy & happy baby.