Time to avoid phrases that mock disabilities

We must stop the casual use of terms like‘turning a blind eye’ and ‘paralysed economy’

In our day-to-day interactions, we come across words and phrases like ‘turning a blind eye’; ‘falling on deaf ears’; ‘a paralysed economy’; ‘institutions running on crutches’; and ‘mute leadership’. What is common among these is that they all signify negative connotation, while referring to physically disabled people. The normalisation of such terms is not a coincidence — there is a sociological reason behind their genesis and usage. Apathy on the part of society towards people with disabilities has led to these terms becoming commonplace, to such an extent that no one bats an eyelid while using them. Further, the society easily derives certain meanings out of these words. For instance, ‘turning a blind eye’ and ‘falling on deaf ears’ signify ignorance. ‘Paralysed economy’ implies that the economy is in a bad or unwanted situation, while ‘institutions running on crutches’ refers to dysfunctional or powerless institutions.
In the first case, disability is, in a rather cunning way, equated to foolishness while in the second instance, it is considered synonymous with nepotism. If one gives these idioms a rethink, one finds that the same ideas could have been expressed in a less humiliating manner — but from the way they are used, they end up mocking the disabled through their usage. As a result, our society only associates emotions like hatred, pity and ignorance with people with disabilities. Languages reveal many important things about the mindset of the speakers. Hence, it is high time the usage of such words, phrases and idioms is stopped and, instead, people become more conscious and careful. It is high time we challenge the socially accepted norms which, in practice, prove to be anti-disabled.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/time-to-avoid-phrases-that-mock-disabilities/article25161968.ece

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