How People can Be Empowered by a Label
Wait, what!? We’re all about labeling jars, not people.
I’m no fan of labels. They are the most obvious outward excuse to segregate a person with a disability. Often labels leave an unintentional ‘us and them’ dynamic that’s tough to beat. How can you encourage people to see a person, as a person…if as a society we’re constantly emphasizing the 5% of a person that’s unique, framed in a negative context?
Is there any good that comes from labels? In an imperfect world, here’s what we can embrace about labels.
Knowledge is power.
Using a label to find knowledge and learn is the most powerful tool in the advocate toolkit. The best way to fight a label is to know everything about it. Facts are powerful ammunition against ignorance. The more we know, the better we can advocate for what a person wants. Support agencies and parents use knowledge gained to help support people in ever more empowered ways when they use knowledge gained by trailblazers.
Diagnosis opens doors.
Funding and government related supports are often attached to labels. Many non-profit agencies identify with a particular label. They can offer specialized resources and a wealth of knowledge. Knowing a particular label can help agencies tap into the dollars to create amazing support programs.
When I work with Inclusion by IBEX customers I see this come to life everyday. Using these resources you create independent supports that celebrate people, not their labels.
Potential for better health care.
Knowing the label used by a doctor can lead to better healthcare. A label can help guide the search for innovative therapies, tools, and other resources. A support breakthrough can only be helpful if supports and people know they exist.
Networking opportunities that lead to the achievement of support goals.
Ever heard the phrase who you know is more important than what you know? Unlocking more of the first three benefits comes from meeting other people who share a common interest. Meet that person that knows a physiotherapist that’s exceptional, or a wheelchair service that goes above and beyond, and about that job offer from a supportive employer!
Any stories about using a label as leverage to get to something better? How do you minimize the use of labels in your organization? Any tips and suggestions?
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