Guest Blog

Please, Let's Stop Saying "Overcome"

04 Apr 2018 by Anonymous

Please stop saying "Overcoming" disability. There are more articles being published on disability, and that awareness is a good thing! But I wish the often-used frame of reference on discussing these topics was less on "Overcoming" and instead more on Emphasizing individual lives and relationships - whether disabled or not.  We all have challenges, particular needs, and goals, but how we frame the story says so much more.

We all have challenges, particular needs, and goals; how we frame the story tells so much more.

For example, two recent articles I read using this frame of reference include the following:

"Resilient Wheelchair User Overcomes Disability in Gym,” sharing a story of how an individual "overcame" the obstacle of her “condition” to work out.  Another story was titled,  “Teen Overcomes Disability to Excel in Archery.” 

How can people and society accept people with disabilities, and people with disabilities accept themselves...

It is not that their disability is not a factor.  It is an important part of who these individuals are, but their lives are so much more than just the challenges that are seen as “overcoming.” How can people and society accept  people with disabilities, and people with disabilities accept themselves, if we keep saying or perceiving that they are not good enough and need to be changed and overcome? 

This above frame of reference in which lives are told are paternalistic and sadly judgmental in a spirit that may be to inspire others, but is demeaning and minimizing  to the person who is being written about  and to others with disabilities. 

We all want respect, recognition, and support.

It is important we share these stories, but not in an inspirational way that evokes helplessness that needs to be overcome and old stereotypes. None of us wants to be pitied.  We all want respect, recognition, and support.

Let’s stop treating the disabled as special or to be pitied. Let’s show them the regard and acceptance we all desire.