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Diversability: What Does the Word Mean?

Published: 2019-03-23 - Updated: 2021-09-26
Author: Disabled World | Contact: Disabled World (
Peer-Reviewed Publication: N/A
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Synopsis: Article examines the founding and meaning of the word Diversability and what the word represents to people with disabilities. Diversability is a movement to replace the word disability. People should choose language they want to describe themselves.


Main Digest

What is Meant by Diversability?


No, it's not a consolidated hashtag for "Divers Ability", Diversability is quoted as being an award-winning global movement to re-brand disability through the power of community that began in Washington, DC with Tiffany Yu in 2009.

NOTE: Tiffany Yu contacted Disabled World to clarify a point: "Note that we as a company are not advocating for changing the word disability and are proud of our disability identity." - Tiffany Yu.

This article is from our digest of publications relating to Glossary and Definitions that also includes:

The term Diversability embraces the uniqueness and potential in every human being, disabled or non-disabled.

Diversability wordcloud listing the words - Disability, Disabled, Able, Diversability, Disabilities, Diversable, Capable, Abilities, disABILITY, inABILITY.
Diversability wordcloud listing the words - Disability, Disabled, Able, Diversability, Disabilities, Diversable, Capable, Abilities, disABILITY, inABILITY.

Disability or Diversability?

"The word "disabilities" is associated with the past and people's negative experiences with institutions. I am looking to change the word to "diversabilities" because these institutions are now closed and I want to focus instead on the abilities of people now and in the future. People with diversabilities do not want to be a burden to society, but instead want to be contributors and participants in society." - Shelley Decoste.

Shelley Decoste is a well-known leader in the Self Advocacy Movement leading a campaign to change the word "disability" to "diversability". She started the DIVERSABILITY campaign in 2012 and now has followers across BC. Shelley says, "If you break down the word DISabled, you get not able. If you break down DIVERSABILITY, you get different, but able. To create a better understanding we can begin with something as simple as changing our language." She has begun work as an inspirational speaker, presenting at various committee meetings, conferences and gatherings on "diversability" across the Canadian Province of British Columbia. You can learn more at

In the United Kingdom the U.K. Diversability Card is the official discount card for people with disabilities, and provides exclusive and market leading discounts with brands, service and entertainment providers.

Not Everone Agrees...

Like the ongoing argument between the words disabled and disabilities, the debate between Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and the controversial term "Neurodiversity", and the opposition to people first language movement, not everyone agrees with the definition and use of the word "diversability".

"It is still a label. It is still a word that sorts out the 'us' and the 'them', because it isn't really intended to describe everyone, it's intended to describe those of us with physical, emotional, or cognitive challenges." - Blogger on Kelowna Now.

The blogger goes on to say...that people should choose the language that they please to describe themselves - whether they choose disabled, diversable, or any other term. It is about opening up a conversation, not simply about how we define ourselves and others, but how those definitions are shaped by the society in which we live...

Language is forever changing, but who is is changing for?

And by whom?

And, how much has these changes really affected the quality of life of those to whom it was applied...? And not just the so called "politically correct" - for their own benefit - social justice warriors (sjw)...

References and Further Reading

Diversability is an award-winning social enterprise to rebrand disability through the power of community.

Disability or Diversability? By Frances Carruthers

Shelley DeCoste is a self advocate leading a campaign to change the word "disability" to "diversability".

Changing The Language - Disability or Diversability?

Is "disability" a bad word? - Friendly crips and our friends.

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Disabled World provides general information only. The materials presented are never meant to substitute for professional medical care by a qualified practitioner, nor should they be construed as such. Financial support is derived from advertisements or referral programs, where indicated. Any 3rd party offering or advertising does not constitute an endorsement.

Cite This Page (APA): Disabled World. (2019, March 23). Diversability: What Does the Word Mean?. Disabled World. Retrieved October 2, 2022 from

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