What It Should Have Been: Edition #2

By Alvan Yap

Welcome to round 2 of DPA’s public education initiative on the proper terminology to describe people with disabilities. (For first-time readers, find out more here.)

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Source/date: Straits Times, 8 July 2013
Article title: $250k fund helps youth start social enterprises

Original line:
Ex-offenders, single parents or handicapped people will be trained to make the delicacy.

Amended:
Ex-offenders, single parents or people with disabilities will be trained to make the delicacy.

Why?
SG Enable’s ‘Live Enabled’, on its disability terminology page, states that “handicapped” is an outdated or offensive term. Also, it should not be used as a catch-all term for people with physical disabilities.

*****

Straits Times, 11 July 2013:
London cabs for wheelchair users grow to 30

Original:
In a statement on Thursday, SMRT said its fleet of 30 London taxis are now fully operational to cater to those wheelchair bound commuters, especially those using motorised and larger-than-normal wheelchairs.

Amended:
In a statement on Thursday, SMRT said its fleet of 30 London taxis are now fully operational to cater to wheelchair-using commuters, especially those using motorised and larger-than-normal wheelchairs.

Why?
An old bugbear. Let’s trot out the explanation again via SG Enable: For their users, wheelchairs allow greater freedom of movement. Avoid terms such as “wheelchair-bound” or “confined to a wheelchair”. Rather, say that a person “uses a wheelchair”.

Note that the first line in the story actually uses the correct term: “Transport operator SMRT has put its final batch of 15 London cabs on the road on Thursday, doubling its fleet of vehicles that wheelchair users rely on to get around.”

*****

Straits Times, 19 July 2013
Singapore ratifies UN agreement granting equal rights to the disabled

Original: (Note this is a photo caption)
A wheel-chair bound person at the Handicap Welfare Association. Singapore has taken a step closer in guaranteeing equal rights for disabled people here with the ratification of a global agreement on Friday. — ST FILE PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM

Amended:
A wheelchair user at the Handicap Welfare Association. Singapore has taken a step closer in guaranteeing equal rights for disabled people here with the ratification of a global agreement on Friday. — ST FILE PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM

Why?
As above.

*****

All in all, notwithstanding the above lapses, the Straits Times has improved in this aspect – most of its reports and forum letters have been using or edited to use the term “wheelchair user(s)”. We hope this continues to gain more traction and awareness keeps growing among its journalists.

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