Choosing Our Language Carefully {Using the Words You Really Intend}

 "Just because a man lacks the use of his eyes doesn't mean he lacks vision." - Stevie Wonder; Removing the Stumbling Block

Have you ever thought about how many different ways we use the word see? And when you say "see", is it always what you intend?

There's the obvious, “I see you.”

But then there’s, “Oh, I see” when you really mean “I understand”.

How about, "Can I see you for a minute?" which is actually a way of asking, “Can I speak to you?”

Then there’s “Let’s see…” another way of saying, “I’m thinking….”

Or maybe you use, “We are seeing each other” as a metaphor for dating.

We live in a visual world. As a result, our language and our behavior both rely heavily on the assumption of sight. I don't necessarily find fault with this, but it can get tricky. It could be just one more way that we experience our world on ablelist terms (ableism is defined as discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities). If we are to shift our thinking so that we view our world through an inclusive lens, we need to become more aware of the words we choose. I am truly cognizant of and deliberate in my use of inclusive language, and I still use the word “see” many times each day. 

But I am aware.

And we need to be aware that there are people who experience this world differently. Really aware. So that when moments like this happen, we do more than laugh or clap or share a Facebook post. We need to use moments like this to launch change.

Stevie Wonder performed with Pentatonix at the 2016 Grammy Awards in a tribute to Maurice White, and then presented the award for Song of the Year. In what was one of my favorite television moments of all time, Wonder opened the card, which was written in Braille, and turned it around to the audience. "Y'all can't read this, can ya," he said with a laugh as he held up the card. "You can't read it. You can't read Braille, nah, nah, nah na nah, nah." He then went on to state, "I just want to say before saying the winner that we need to make every single thing accessible to every single person with a disability."

Check it out here if you missed it: Stevie Wonder Teases Artists: 'You Can't Read Braille' 

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