It’s high time we abandoned the language of vulnerability

Could not agree more. Labels do disempower.

Making rights make sense

‘To be alive is to be vulnerable’ Madeleine L’Engle

The language of ‘vulnerability’ continues to pervade public discourse regarding disabled people. ‘Vulnerability’ is employed to a number of ends by policy-makers and campaigners alike. In Parliamentary debates regarding welfare reform, politicians refer to the impact of benefit cuts not on disabled citizens but on ‘our most vulnerable citizens’. In relation to crime, disabled victims are often described as ‘vulnerable.’  Human rights defenders include disabled people among ‘vulnerable groups.’  In social care, official terminology describes people as ‘vulnerable adults’ to identify their need for additional ‘safeguarding.’

The term ‘vulnerable’ is a value-laden frame. It conveys weakness, the lack of capacity and agency of a person to look after themselves, the increased likelihood that they might come in harms way or be taken advantage of. In the context of welfare reform it is used to demark a group of people who cannot…

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