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Handicapped issues discussed

Students at Robin inform others about being disabled

Published: Monday, March 8, 2010

Updated: Monday, March 8, 2010 10:03

handicapped issues

Yvonne Strumecki

Sam Schmidt, secondary education student, attends the "What is it like to be handicapped?" event last Wednesday.

handicapped issues teaser

Yvonne Strumecki

A poster during the "What is it like to be handicapped?" event

Students at the Schaumburg campus were exposed to the challenges that handicapped people face in their daily lives on March 3.

What started as a simple informational event, became a discussion of terminology affecting the handicapped community.

Posters hung throughout the school depicting the International Symbol of Access, otherwise known as the "wheelchair symbol," but not in its usual blue and white form.

"Instead of just being positioned and handicapped, we decided to make him doing things," said Charlotte Hebert, cultural events coordinator for the Robin campus: "We have some where he's in the Olympics, some where he's playing basketball or fishing. Everyday things that people do like studying and cooking on the grill, just to make people understand that they're just like everybody else."

Hebert's campaign did draw some negative attention with its use of the word "handicapped" rather than "disabled".

Hebert used this term to draw students' attention to this particular use of language.

Signs hung from the informational table stating, "No one is disabled. People only do things differently."

Villanova University's Web site contains a page for "disability etiquette," which helps clarify the definitions between both words.

"A disability is a condition caused by an accident, trauma, genetics or disease which may limit a person's mobility, hearing, vision, speech or mental function. Some people have more than one disability. A handicap is physical or attitudinal constraint that is imposed upon a person, regardless of whether that person has a disability. A set a stairs would be a handicap for a person with a disability who uses a wheelchair."

According to the World Health Organization, "disabled" is "an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions."

However, the word "disabled" means unable or not able, which can also lend itself to being derogatory as well.

"I didn't mean to be offensive," Hebert said. "I think (the label) ‘being disabled' is more offensive."

The event also coincided with the "Spread the Word to End the Word" campaign.


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