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Language – A person with…

On June 19, 2012 I was 79 years old, and starting to live my 80th year. I decided to write down Things I Have Learned So Far:

8. Language – A person with…

Harold Wilke taught me about the importance of language. I met Harold at the National Council of Churches offices at 475 Riverside Drive in New York City. I put out my hand to shake his hands and found that he had no hands and no arms.

In our subsequent conversations, in our letters, in my reading some of the things he has written, language came through as important. He is not an armless man, but a man with no arms; another person is not an Alzheimer person, but a person with Alzheimers. There is not an AIDS person, but a person with AIDS.

What we need to say is that this is a whole person with a disability.

Wilke asks, “Do you have a disability?” and if the person answers “No,” Wilke says, “Just wait.”

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