Man launches campaign to get Isilngton Council to stop using the word disabled

Darius Simani

Darius Simani - Credit: Archant

An equal rights campaigner is willing to take the town hall to court if they don’t adopt a new word he invented –“diff-ability” – to describe those currently called disabled.

Darius Simani, who contracted polio at the age of three and walks with callipers on his legs and elbow crutches, claims the word disability is a “big insult” and will challenge Islington Council’s health chief Cllr Janet Burgess to delete it from all documents at a meeting of the full council tonight.

Mr Simani, who founded both the Disability Awareness Education and Disability Career Support charities, says he is not afraid to escalate things under European discrimination laws if he doesn’t get the answer he wants.

He said: “Due to my different appearance, I together with all other people similar to me have always been described at worst as disabled, spastic, mental and even retard, and at best a person with physical disability.

He added: “If they don’t change it I will take legal action. I think I have a very strong case. Disabled means you are dead, useless. As soon as they use the word disabled, people think ‘we wont take them’.

“We want people to understand what the word means. If you were born disabled, registrars used to write on your birth certificate that you were ‘God’s curse on earth’.

“That’s the kind of history you are dealing with. We just want to be like everyone else. It’s like racism in the 1970s.

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“If, God forbid, the council leader lost both hands, would you write them off?”

His question to the council tonight reads: “Will the honourable mayor, the leader of the council and the honourable councillors consider this issue as a priority and not as a petit political issue and drop the word disability from all official council documents and replace it with the more descriptive word diff-ability, short for different ability, when referring to people with health issues?

Cllr Janet Burgess, Islington Council’s executive member for health and wellbeing, said she would give her full response to the question at the meeting.

She added: “Its difficult because you want to speak to people as they want to be addressed, but different people have different ideas.

“We follow what organisation suggest themselves – the language we use now was put forward by the charity Scope in 2006.

“I’ve been doing this nearly four years and no one has suggested its outdated.”