Talk About Words, Dignity and a Touch of Love

by Mary Jane Owen


Talk about words, dignity and a touch of love.


It was just last month. A group of advocates gathered in a crowded board room for a briefing on the Americans with Disabilities Act.

One of the most successful lobbyists took a peer to task: “How could you approve the use of the phrase `the disabled' when we've been working to get everyone to always say `people with disabilities'?!”


Evolving Definition of Disability


 Some Background


A growing community of concern has taken a fresh look at what it means to be disabled. The lexicon will continue to evolve, just as it has in any other community which struggles to move beyond the negative stereotypes of the past. The following ideas reflect current thought developed within the disability leadership.

Deacon reads from the book of Gospels at Mass from a wheelchair

An Expanding Community of Concern

Each year medical and rehabilitation techniques and technology salvage lives which would have been lost a generation ago. This rapidly expanding group of individuals looks forward to new opportunities and challenges. The challenge of the 1978 Pastoral Statement of U.S. Catholic Bishops on People with Disabilities that people with disabilities be offered the opportunity to participate fully in the celebrations and obligations of membership within our faith community still guides our efforts toward inclusion. Implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 brings with it federal guarantees of equity and dignity for 49 million citizens who have too long awaited recognition of their gifts.


A Common Yet Unique Experience

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