discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities

Merriam Webster

Disableism (not found in MW)

Disablism can be defined as discriminatory, oppressive, abusive behaviour arising from the belief that disabled people are inferior to others. Disablism refers to prejudice, stereotyping, or "institutional discrimination" against disabled people.

Council of Europe

That sounds pretty much the same thing, with barely a sliver of light between them.

On some of the support groups I have participated on, ableism, ableist also indicate the belief that able people are superior to disabled people.

What word or phrase expresses the opposite viewpoint? That a disability is a positive thing, and even sometimes makes the 'sufferer' appear superior?

"_________________ describes the belief that her disability actually gave her an advantage in life."

At this point I am thinking on Greta Thunberg; "Super power".

Remember Cat Steven's Moon Shadow?

And if I ever lose my eyes
If my colours all run dry
Yes, if I ever lose my eyes
Oh, if, I won't have to cry no more

That is only looking on the positive side, a form of rationalization....I am looking for something more. Surprisingly, the song does not ever reference loss of audition.


I used to have a friend called Dreck, and he was deaf and probably autistic. He once expressed to me that he could not stand being around a bunch of argumentative people, and was glad that he was deaf so that he could focus on the visual moment, and also consider patterns that others could not see. He called it "background noise", and said it was often intrusive.

[EDIT] ...to include a pertinent comment from @Joshua

I don't know a word for this, but this definitely exists. The army deliberately employs colorblind artillery spotters because camouflage doesn't work on them because the dies no longer match the background.

I did a bit of research on this, and it is a valid comment.

In fact. it quotes an article from TIME magazine going back to the beginning of WWII.

From Color-Blindness.com...

In a plane at Fort Sill, Okla. early this summer, an Air Corps observer was able to spot only ten of 40 camouflaged artillery fieldpieces on the ground. An observer of the Field Artillery in a plane spotted all 40 and accurately plotted their positions on his map. The explanation: the artilleryman, selected under less rigorous examination than the Air Corps man, was colorblind. Camouflage, designed to deceive the normal eye, fooled him not a whit.

I have also seen online posts saying that although colorblindness is considered a disqualifying feature for NAVY SEALS, in fact some branches of the military actually hire people like this as snipers (provided they can score at least a 98 in the 10 ring).

More recently, I have seen other posts pointing out that color-blind artillery spotters in hovering helicopters can often see differences in texture, and are considered more reliable. ...

  • 2
    Differently abled has been used with no discrimination intent. lexico.com/definition/differently_abled
    – user 66974
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 18:53
  • 2
    Not sure there is a term to indicate that “disability” is superior to “ability”. I think it all comes down to accepting diversity, rather than look for new forms of discrimination.
    – user 66974
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 19:01
  • 2
    You're not looking for a negative term, are you? A lot of people (myself included) don't like "differently abled" (nor do I feel that it really expresses the desired meaning in practice). And there are certainly more negative terms out there.
    – Laurel
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 19:26
  • 4
    I don't know a word for this, but this definitely exists. The army deliberately employs colorblind artillery spotters because camouflage doesn't work on them because the dies no longer match the background.
    – Joshua
    Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 18:20
  • 1
    Oh, thanks. If only I'd gone to the trouble looking that up! Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 19:32

6 Answers 6


Disability pride seems like the most fitting term.

Kathleen R. Bogart Ph.D., who has facial paralysis caused by Moebius syndrome, explains in a Psychology Today article:

Like the early gay pride movement, disability pride is a radical shift from the typical way of thinking. Why would someone be proud of their disability? I, for example, am proud because my disability motivated me and gave me the specific expertise and lived experience to devote my career to improving quality of life for disabled people. I am proud because my face makes me distinctive—I have a tiny bit of celebrity status. People remember me after seeing me once, far better than I remember them. I am proud because my disability gives me a unique perspective of the world. I am proud because my disability has connected me to so many interesting and kind people in my disability community.

I saw ads for disability pride month 2022 on NatGeo, so it is out there. While it's still not a common expression (though a casual search tells me it's at least 30 years old), the meaning is very obvious thanks to LGBTQ pride month.

"Disability pride" is a positive term used by people with disabilities. Unlike other terms, using it doesn't make you seem opposed to the idea that disabled people can find things about their disabilities that enrich their lives, no hatred (of the abled) involved. And it doesn't sweep the difficulties of having a disability under the rug in a potentially patronizing way, unlike some other terms ("handicapable" or "differently abled", both of which are often labeled as ableist).

You can also see more specific versions used. Compare Deaf pride and autistic pride.


Neurodiversity and neurodivergent have positive connotations which might work in your example sentence.

  • Neurodiversity:

    “Neurodiverse” refers to a community of people whose members are neurodivergent.

    Neurodiversity is an approach to education and ability that supports the fact that various neurological conditions are the effect of normal changes and variations in the human genome.

    ADHD, Autism, Dyspraxia, and Dyslexia all fall within the spectrum of “Neurodiversity” and are all neurodiverse conditions.

    Neuro-differences are recognised and appreciated as a social category similar to differences in ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, or ability.

    For example, a condition such as dyslexia is an integral part of a person. To take away their dyslexia is to take away from the person.

  • Neurodivergence

    Noun: Cognitive functioning which is not considered "typical". For example, autistic, dyslexic, and dyspraxic people.

  • Neurodivergent

    Adjective: Describes people who have a neurodivergence.

(From exceptionalindividuals.com)

  • Welcome to EL&U. Could you take some time to type out or copy/paste the pertinent sections of the entries? Links rot over time... Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 14:25
  • @Cascabel: I temporarily added some content from the links into the answer. The OP can later edit in/out content as needed.
    – Justin
    Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 17:54
  • 1
    @Justin Above and beyond call of duty... Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 17:55
  • 6
    Note: Physical disabilities such as deafness or impaired movement aren't considered neurodivergence.
    – Laurel
    Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 20:59
  • 1
    Agreed, Laurel. There are tons of disabilities that don't fit this one. Commented Jun 15, 2022 at 2:35

Appreciation of differences

My son has Tourette Syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder. He realized in middle school that the flip side of the misery caused by his intrusive thoughts is his off-beat sense of humor. The connection he figured out is that he has a lot of imagination. His imagination can lead him to unusual, entertaining ways of seeing things, but it can also go wild and lead to intrusive thoughts.

When possible, we like to speak of his differences, rather than his disabilities. (Doesn't work when he's self-disclosing and asking for disability accommodations at work!)

I do like the proposed "Disability Pride," but "Appreciation of Differences" has the advantage that it doesn't include the word "disability," which can start to get a person down if overused.

When speaking of "differences," there's no judgment -- no assumption that the differences are necessarily bad or troublesome. They may be troublesome in some contexts, but they can also be a plus, in others.

Variants: awareness of differences, acceptance of differences.

  • "Differences" seems like the appropriate word to me. It lacks judgement. She's different, which gives her an advantage in some situations Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 10:59
  • BTW, quite often there is an argument about the usage of the term "disabled"...it sounds offensive, but it was only until the last year that I had to accept the technical usage on support groups. Commented Jun 14, 2022 at 18:44
  • @Cascabel_StandWithUkraine_ - I prefer "with a disability" over "disabled." It feels less of a global descriptor that way. Commented Jun 15, 2022 at 2:34

I don't believe there is a word for this yet, but poetry and literature are filled with examples of this theme. The Japanese have an art called kintsugi, which is the practice of mending broken pottery with golden seams. It's all about how breakage and repair are proper parts of the beauty of an object, rather than something to be disguised. The Japanese also have wabi-sabi, "a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection."

I recall two poems about this theme that are at least worth pondering as you search for a phrase. Their titles both serve well as a short-hand for the type of attitude you ask about: "Nothing Worth Loving Isn't Askew" and "Pied Beauty"

There's a song that I like related to this. It's called Nothing Worth Loving Isn't Askew by Lemon Demon.

Here's a link to the song: https://lemondemon.bandcamp.com/track/nothing-worth-loving-isnt-askew

and here are the lyrics:

You are red and blue and green,
Living like a living computer glitch.
You could change to anything.
All you gotta do is just hit the switch.
You are muscle, flesh, and bone,
Living in the land of automobiles.
If you ever lose your shoes,
All you gotta do is just click your heels.
Symmetry’s overrated, methinks.
Look at the scars all over the Sphinx.
Do you know that when you blink,
Each eye winks slightly out of sync?
Symmetry’s overrated, methinks.
Look at the scars all over the Sphinx.
Even the planet spins with a tilt.
Everybody’s built like a quilt.
Have you heard the awful truth?
Cursed asymmetricals go to hell.
If you trip and lose a tooth,
You gotta knock the other side out as well.
Gouge both eyes out and you’ll see
Empty sockets everywhere: self abyss.
Fill them up with mercury
So that I can see myself when we kiss.
Symmetry’s overrated, methinks.
Look at the scars all over the Sphinx.
Even the planet spins with a tilt.
Everybody’s built like a quilt.
Trees in the forest fall to the side.
Everybody’s got something to hide,
Except for me and my suitcase
Full of imperfections.
If the court has no objections…
Symmetry’s overrated, methinks.
Look at the scars all over the Sphinx.
I am lopsided, and so are you.
Nothing worth loving isn’t askew.

I humbly propose the phrase "nothin' worth lovin' isn't askew" for your purposes.

There is also a much older poem about this called Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Glory be to God for dappled things –
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
       For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
    Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
       And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
    Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
       With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                       Praise him.


  • 1
    Nice answer! I've included the poem "Pied Beauty" with the correct formatting 😊
    – ermanen
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 20:01

There is a comics called Super-abled where the motto is "Disabled superheroes from disabled creators". It is a clever coinage; and coincidentally, there is the word superable (and the noun form superability) in English meaning:

capable of being overcome or conquered - MW

Double coincidentally, superability is used in the book Disability in Comic Books and Graphic Narratives edited by C. Foss, J. Gray, Zach Whalen:

First, comics are fundementally representational media that incorporate images of the body in all ranges of ability, including (most visibly) the superability of empowered heroes.

Here is another usage of superability in the disability context from the book Disability, Deformity, and Disease in the Grimms' Fairy Tales By Ann Schmiesing :

Nature rewards the disabled person with this compensatory superability. Disability and extraordinary ability are in this conception biologically intertwined and a gift of Nature or, in light of the Grimms' Calvinist worldview, God.

When I search superability and disability together, I find many related sources where the term superability is used in a way that empowers disabled people.

Note: OED lists both superable and superability; and adds that they are rare.

  • I will have a look... Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 20:26
  • Additionally, for the example sentence, I suggest uniqueness which is a neutral word and can be used in any context. (and it is inclusive as everyone can be considered unique).
    – ermanen
    Commented Jun 13, 2022 at 21:23

There is no such word or term and I don't believe there ever will be.

I do believe the reason for that is that everyone knows disability is only ever a good thing if, for instance, a disabling wound means a soldier can go home from the war… in which case, the details matter more than the principle.

I'm sorry to have to point out that labelling people as "differently abled" instead of simply "disabled" doesn't at all overcome the idea that disabled people are somehow less worthy.

What it does, broadly, is make it very much harder to discuss the issue without appearing to give offence.

  • I appreciate your thoughts, and I wish you could develop them more. In the meantime, I understand your position and +1ed as they are germane to my query. Point in fact, I considered your answer as THE answer. . ..i.e. "There is no such word". Commented Jun 23, 2022 at 20:05

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