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Resources: Dictionary of Terms


Audism is a form of prejudice towards people with hearing loss that presupposes the superiority of spoken language over sign language.


Ableism is a form of discrimination that is based on the false idea that disabled people are by default, inferior or less than. Ableism is a set of beliefs or practices that devalue and discriminate against people with physical, intellectual, neurological or psychiatric disabilities and often rests on the assumption that disabled people need to be ‘fixed’ in one form or the other. Ableism is intertwined in our culture, due to many limiting beliefs about what disability does or does not mean, how non disabled people learn to treat people with disabilities and how we are often not included at the table for key decisions. Ableism doesn’t have to be ill-intended, it often comes from good intentions. Likewise, internal ableism as well as ableism from other disabled people is as common as it is coming from those who aren’t disabled themselves.


Fiona Kumari Campbell updated the definition

Ableism is a system of causal relations about the order of life that produces processes and systems of entitlement and exclusion. This causality fosters conditions of microaggression, internalized ableism and, in their jostling, notions of (un)encumbrance.A system of dividing practices, ableism institutes the reification and classification of populations. Ableist systems involve the differentiation, ranking, negation, notification and prioritization of sentient life.




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Title 504

ADA - Americans With Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush (R) alongside its "founding father," Justin Dart. The ADA is considered the most important civil rights law since Title 504 and has cross-disability support, bringing disability-specific organizations, advocates, and supporters all together for the same cause. 



American Sign Language (ASL) 

Congenital Disability

A disability that exists at birth.


Significant combined loss/impairment of both senses (hearing and visual).  People who are deaf-blind may have unique problems with communication, mobility and other daily living skills that make achieving independence more difficult.


Developmental Disability (DD) (As defined by federal law)

(A) means a severe, chronic disability of an individual that— (i) is attributable to a mental or physical impairment or combination of mental and physical impairments; (ii) is manifested before the individual attains age 22; (iii) is likely to continue indefinitely; (iv) results in substantial functional limitations in 3 or more of the following areas of major life activity: (I) Self-care. (II) Receptive and expressive language. (III) Learning. (IV) Mobility. (V) Self-direction. (VI) Capacity for independent living. (VII) Economic self-sufficiency; and (v) reflects the individual’s need for a combination and sequence of special, interdisciplinary, or generic services, individualized supports, or other forms of assistance that are of lifelong or extended duration.

Categories Glossary of Disability Terms

Developmental Disability (DD) (As defined by North Carolina General Statute)

North Carolina General Statute 122C-3(12a) defines a developmental disability as a severe, chronic disability of a person which is attributable to mental or physical impairment or combination of mental and physical impairments; is manifested before the person attains age 22, unless the disability is caused by traumatic head injury and is manifested after age 22; is likely to continue indefinitely; results in substantial functional limitations in three or more of the following areas of major life activity: (a) self-care, (b) reception (understanding) and expressive language, (c) learning, (d) mobility (ability to move), (e) self-direction (motivation), (f) the capacity for independent living, (g) economic self-sufficiency; reflects the person’s need for a combination or sequence of special interdisciplinary services which are of a lifelong or extended duration and are individually planned and coordinated; or when applied to children from birth through four years of age, may be evidenced as developmental delay.

Universal Design

An approach to accessibility that concentrates on making all aspects of an environment accessible to all people, regardless of their level of ability. Examples of universal design include lever handles rather than round door knobs for doors; lower light switches; water controls located towards the outside of the tub; adjustable closet rods and shelves; dual-height water fountains; playground equipment accessible to all children, including those who use wheelchairs; and household items (e.g., microwave ovens, televisions, radios) with touch-sensitive controls.

Categories Glossary of Disability Terms

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

a framework for designing curricula that enable all individuals to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for learning. UDL provides rich supports for learning and reduces barriers to the curriculum while maintaining high achievement standards for all.

Spoon Theory


Video Relay Service (VRS)

A videoconferencing application for computers with a video system. The American Sign Language (ASL) user can dial Relay North Carolina and have a certified interpreter appear on his or her computer. The ASL user communicates to the interpreter through the video while the interpreter dials out to the hearing party and relays the call.


Inspiration Porn


Cross Disability




Capitol Crawl

The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvements Act of 1999 

The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvements Act of 1999 (TWWIIA) expanded the availability of Medicare and Medicaid so that certain disabled beneficiaries who return to work will not lose their medical benefits.


In Olmstead v. L.C. the U.S. Supreme Court rules that unnecessary institutionalization of people with disabilities constitutes discrimination and violates the ADA, that individuals have a right to receive benefits in the "most integrated setting appropriate to their needs," and that failure to find community-based placements for qualifying people with disabilities is illegal discrimination.



Disability Pride

Social Model

Medical Model

Person First Language

Person Centered Language

Identity First Language

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