These are things that I see while reading around the internet –
"Playgrounds can often be an overwhelming and stressful place for kids with special needs, so Donna opened a sensory gym that caters to children of all abilities!"
"The determination to see past what you can’t do and focus on each individual’s capacity to achieve combined with visionaries who are passionate to share those possibilities with people of all abilities.."
"Inclusion matters: access and empowerment of people of all abilities..."
At first glance, “all abilities” seems to so inclusive.
It’s gathering everyone up and not discriminating by what they can and can’t do.
But over time it’s glaringly apparent that the user is really just talking about people with disabilities.
“People of all abilities” is never used when disability is not present.
The fact that “people of all abilities” is said at all is calling attention to the ability, and focus on inclusion with “all abilities” carries an undertone of inability (else you wouldn’t need to push so much for the “all” in the ability, right?!).
Who Do You Use “All Abilities” With?
“People of all abilities” is not used with geniuses, nor is it used with the typical (able-bodied) population, nope, it’s only used with regard to disability, when there is someone with a disability in the mix.
So, if it’s only used when talking about people with disabilities, can we just say “disability” please?
I promise, saying “disability” straight up is infinitely preferable to finding ways to work around it like “all abilities.”
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.