By: Kaleigh Nobbe, Clinical Intern

Disability has been defined differently throughout the ages, across cultures, and through different disciplines. Regardless, the need for community and social support are fundamental and critical to the Disability community, which is where we often find friction between the ideas of independence and fulfilling needs. The inherent dependence of the Disability community means that individuals, community, and environment need to work together in harmony in order to fully integrate the Disabled community.

Here are a couple notes I want to mention about disability culture:

· Person-first language versus identity-first language

In general, there has been a large push to refer to someone and a “person with disability” as a means of respecting someone’s humanity. However, when referring to the Disabled community, some prefer identity-first language, because the condition is permanent and part of who they are, and they embrace who they are rather than hold the condition as separate from themselves. So, for example, you would say, “The Deaf person” rather than “The person who is deaf.” Regardless, on a person-to-person level, it is a highly personal choice what language to use, so please ask your friends, neighbors, colleagues, etc. what they prefer.

· Capital D disabled

Often when someone identifies as Disabled, that means they identify with the Disability community and the advocacy and activism movement and usually have a level of pride in identifying as Disabled. Obviously, you want to make sure to ask whether this is the case for people with whom you interact, because maybe on paper they are just writing the word with a capital letter.


Visible or invisible, mental or physical, impacted or not, we all have a part in treating people with respect. To learn more about people with disabilities, check out this infographic.


To find support or learn more about how you can advocate for yourself or loved ones,

Call Owens & Associates at 847-854-4333 for a free 15-minute consultation.