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The inaccessible nature of accessibility

If I am ever late to class (which I endeavor at all costs not to be), it is usually a result of one of three potential factors. Maybe I just overslept — it happens to the best of us. Or maybe it’s raining and my journey time has doubled because I wanted to walk in the shelter of the arcades instead of taking my usual diagonal trajectory across Main Quad. But most likely, I am quite simply waiting for the elevator.

I have a disability, but I’m not disabled

As an international student from the United Kingdom, I am no stranger to familiarising myself with the subtleties of language that differentiate my native tongue from that of the United States. In addition to the “chips” or “fries” conundrum and “pavement” versus “sidewalk” debate, I have recently become aware of another linguistic nuance that appears to carry much greater significance: person-first language. A phenomenon that has not yet reached the UK with such widespread impact as it has in the US, person-first language is a type of linguistic prescription linked largely to the disability community which seeks, as far as possible, to place the person before their diagnosis or impairment. For example, in this framework it would be preferable to use “persons with disabilities” over “disabled people”.