Yesterday, while exploring a website promoting an upcoming accessibility workshop, I read:
The physically challenged represent approximately twenty percent of the population, and this number is growing.
I was left wondering the physically challenged what? Horses? Cats? People? Which population? Of Mars?
Physically challenged, disabled and handicapped are not nouns; using them as such is grammatically incorrect and impedes comprehension.
Consider the follows three revised sentences:
Sentence #1: Correcting grammar and improving comprehension, the sentence could be rewritten to read:
Individuals with physical challenges represent approximately twenty percent of the Canadian population, and this number is growing.
Of course, sentence #1 assumes the Canadian population is being referenced.
Sentence #2: Assuming the 20% figure includes all disabilities, the following sentence would be more accurate:
People with disabilities represent approximately twenty percent of the Canadian population, and this number is growing.
Sentence #3: Alternatively, the sentence could be rewritten to read:
Canadians with disabilities represent approximately twenty percent of the population, and this number is growing.
By changing the word â€œpeopleâ€ to â€œCanadiansâ€, this segment of the population is given a sense of belonging and citizenry. After all, isnâ€™t that what accessibility is all about?
Words can confuse or clarify, simplify or elaborate, demean or empower. Take care in how they are used; otherwise, readers may think you are talking about Martians with physical challenges!
Accessibility 100 is a series of 100 easy-to-implement, free and inexpensive tips for improving accessibility for people with disabilities. This is a community project. Feel free to leave your comments, questions and ideas for future Accessibility 100 posts.
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