Since when did ‘handicapped’ become non-pc?

Here’s another piece on lexicon my little young me. I saw an ad placement which mentioned that they encouraged female applicants and “handicapped applicants also welcome”. I thought to myself firstly; isn’t that a bit outdated language? But then I further thought: at what point did handicapped become outdated.

I saw an advert while on the train the other day, it said on it something like “It’s not a spade: it’s a soil relocation impliment”; being on the train made me unable to determine whether it was a joke ad for something like WKD or whether it was serious. However, it is interesting to note how our lexical choices have changed lately. The Spastic’s society in the UK had been renamed to scope (I always thought that was uncouth). I’ve recently subscribed to a podcast called ‘Ouch!’ about disability.

I find the podcast very interesting for a few distinct reasons. One reason is that the presenters are very informal and casual, this is, I think a mixed positive. Perhaps the presenters, who are disabled, are trying to give a human and honest picture of what kind of people they are (I didn’t know they were disabled until they mentioned it – that’s the power of radio). The negative thing I find about it is that, as a BBC podcast, they are a bit lax, uninformed and perhaps unprofessional by the official BBC standards. I appreciate how they portray that disability is a discourse that has many different perspectives within the disabled community. Some don’t want to bring it up, others want to ask the hard questions; while others are one trick ponies in terms of what they talk about.

Apparently (I’m going to wikipedia this in a moment), the British PM has a glass eye; which made the comment by a certain Top Gear Presenter noteworthy. Political correctness, now, more than the past decade, has been the story of the naughties.


2 thoughts on “Since when did ‘handicapped’ become non-pc?

  1. Webster’s dictionary states:2 a: a disadvantage that makes achievement unusually difficult bsometimes offensive : a physical disability. That is the second definition. The first definition is (partially)an advantage given or disadvantage imposed.
    My 10 year old daughter is “handicapped” or has “special needs” or is “special”.

    A simple answer to your question is this: no-one wants a negative label. Although accurate, the term handicapped reduces the person to the descriptor which points out their limitation.

    Think of the fattest person you have ever seen. Doesn’t an obese person automatically create an impression in your mind of many negative qualities? It is the same for people with disabilities or handicaps.

    There are many types of discrimination. There most definitely is discrimination against the disabled/handicapped. It is called “disablism”… rhymes with racism. It can be painful enough to live a life filled with can’t. Being labeled as such only increases the pain.

    The problem then is what to call “them”? (meaning all of the various thems that exist when a label is “necessary”. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. Other than retard, that is.

    Lynn Rickert
    En’s Mom
    Owner of

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