Inappropriate disability-related terms: wheelchair-bound and able-bodied

This post was written in relation to the headline and content of the following article:
Wheelchair-bound Long Island teen is first in NY to compete against able-bodied foes

It is more appropriate to use wheelchair user instead of wheelchair bound and non-disabled people/persons instead of able bodied.

We use the wheelchair for mobility. We are not bound to it. We also use the regular chairs, toilet, car seat and bed. Why are we not described as bound to these as well?

In using the term wheelchair bound, one sees the equipment more than the person. It is better to focus on the person and use wheelchair user.

People are hindered from full and effective participation in society by attitudinal and environmental barriers. Given equal opportunities, everyone can enjoy full participation in all aspects of life.

We are disabled by those factors rather than our impairments. Therefore, when making a comparison with people who do not have impairments in this context, it is better to use non-disabled people/persons.

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Slave to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. Columnist of Breaking Barriers in The Borneo Post. Principal Trainer at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.