I suspect that I even often pull a face when I say the word.
So why is that? I did some thinking.
The word “disabled” suggests that disabled people are not functional in any way.
It is a word I use in relation to apps, features and programs on my phone and computer that I don’t want to interfere, hence switch off, for example when I am making a video, or that I have no need for or that take up too many resources.
I prefer to use the more neutral word “non-mainstream” instead of “disabled”, but that still leaves me with a bit of a problem because women, people whose skin tone isn’t lily white and people who are over 30 or 45 can hardly be considered “non-mainstream”.
Yet they too experience discrimination and are still struggling to be included as fully fledged human beings in society.
This discrimination, however, has turned them into minorities within specific settings (such as boardrooms) and if I take that approach, than I see that lily white people, young people and men are also minorities in certain settings.
Men are still a minority in the caring and supporting professions, for example.
So, “non-mainstream” may work well in practice and could unite groups of people who meet with prejudices, stigmas and discrimination.
To some degree, disabilities are created by the non-inclusive nature of society such as the fact that people in wheelchairs and mobility scooters do not have automatic access to public transport, whereas mainstream people do, and something similar goes for blind people with guide dogs who are refused by cabbies.
It is interesting to note that in the 19th century, John Mill, one of the founders of a school of thinking called utilitarianism – which has had some very negative consequences, I should add – considered women “disabled by society”.