Disability and nondisability are also constructed through the language used to describe people. When someone who cannot see is labeled a “blind person,” for example, it creates the impression that not being able to see sums up the entire person. In other words, blind becomes what they are. The same thing happens when people are described as “brain damaged” or “crippled” or “retarded” or “deaf”— the person becomes the disability and nothing more. Reducing people to a single dimension of who they are separates and excludes them, marks them as “other,” as different from “normal” (white, heterosexual, male, nondisabled) people and therefore as inferior. The effect is compounded by portraying people with disabilities as helpless victims who are “confined” or “stricken” or “suffering from” some “affliction” and then lumping them into an undifferentiated class— the blind, the crippled, the retarded, the deaf, the disabled.
Allan G. Johnson, Privilege, Power, and Difference