For more than 50 years, the Charitable Foundation for People with Disabilities and Other Terrible Afflictions (CFPDOTA) has been serving professionals and families of persons with disabilities. Services range from publishing articles written by everyone except disabled people to disability simulation campaigns involving hiking in potato sacks. CFPDOTA is continuing its groundbreaking work with a formal letter published in the Washington Post stating its firm commitment to a topic the organization knows is the key to radical disability inclusion: person-first language.
“Person-first is simply the only respectful way to refer to those with constitutions that wide society finds unsavory,” said Mary Hawkins, Head of Pity Fundraising at CFPDOTA. “We want everyone to know that we don’t care about addressing their disability, or, as we’ve started calling it, their diffability.”
However, CFPDOTA’s important work has been critiqued by supposedly uneducated people with diffabilities, including the Presidents of the National Federation of the Blind, the National Association of the Deaf, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, and Little People of America.
“It’s a toughie,” added Hawkins, ”but as long as you don’t ask people with handicapabilities, you’ll find that everyone you ask agrees with us.”
As a bonus, beyond asserting the personhood of persons with disabilities and other terrible afflictions, the letter proposed several acceptable alternatives to the “D-word.”
“We fully endorse the usage of terms like differently-abled, diffabled, and handicapable, as well as acronyms that provide distance from the word ‘disabled,’ such as ‘PwD’ for ‘people with disabilities’ or ‘IwD’ for ‘individuals with disabilities.’ Anything that avoids acknowledging their existence.”
When asked for comment, one activist IwD responded, “D*sability is not a bad word. It describes who we are and even celebrates it. We are proud to be d*sabled, and the idea that we need to hide from this identity implies that we should instead be ashamed. Either way, most d*sabled people actually prefer identity-first language. That should be enough.”
*The author had no idea what language to use in this piece, but CFPDOTA’s flyers looked more official so that’s what they went with.