History of the word “disabled”


Throughout the years, the meaning of the word¬†“disabled”¬†has changed.

The word handicapped was first originated in 1653, however it was rarely used. In other countries throughout the years, the word disabled did not exist because in most communities it was socially acceptable to be a bit different from everyone else. In the book “A disability History of the United States” written by Kim E. Nielsen, she states that “for example, a young child born deaf in an indigenous North American nation grew up nearly always being able to communicate with her community and she was not physically segregated” (Nielsen 7).

It hasn’t been until recently, however, that people have begun being shaped by what they cannot do instead of what they can do. These ideas and perceptions have changed over the years because of several varying factors. Although individuals with disabilities share many common experiences and goals, the labels placed on them individually usually change based upon age, region, gender, sexuality, race, class, and lastly the type of disability in which they have (physical, cognitive, or sensory).

One thought on “History of the word “disabled””

  1. Hey Anna! Your research project is very well organized and I like your use of subpages. In the first sentence of your second paragraph, your wording seems a bit jumbled to me. I had to read it a couple times. Perhaps you could rephrase that sentence to make it a little clearer?

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