A Definition of Disability

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A Definition of Disability

The prefix dis is often associated with something negative. It turns words like respectful or honest into disrespectful and dishonest. However, dis is also related to the Latin prefixes of bis and duo, both of which are related to the notion of twice or two ways.

A young child with dark skin and dark braided hair looking into a mirror. The child has a thoughtful look on their face and has their fingertips under their chin. They are wearing a green shirt.

When considered this way, the term disability sheds its negative connotation for one that is powerful:

Dis = Another Way of Doing and Being
Disabled = an ability to do or be something in another way
Disability = an ability to do or be in another way

“Disability does not need to be a dirty word. It does not need to be something of which to be embarrassed or ashamed. Rather, it holds the potential to a power to see and experience the world in a completely different way.” —Meriah Nicols

Adapted and used with permission from 3 Reasons to Say Disability Instead of Special Needs by Meriah Nicols available at https://www.meriahnichols.com/3-reasons-say-disability-instead-special-needs/

DRC-NH, in collaboration with the UNH Institute on Disability and the New Hampshire Council on Developmental Disabilities, distribute a quarterly RAP sheet to educate community members and policy makers about the latest research, policy, practice, and advocacy issues affecting individuals with disabilities and their families.


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