Professor speaks on interacting with people who have disabilities

Grace Murphy
Staff Writer

A professor spoke to a small group of students about interacting with people who have disabilities at a talk Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 4:30 pm in the Gentile Gallery.

Ricardo Chaparro-Pacheco, who has a doctorate in social work, is the director of the social work program at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Junior Camden Flater, president of Breaking Barriers, a student club dedicated to advocating for individuals with disabilities on campus, gave a brief introduction before Chaparro-Pacheco’s talk.

Chaparro-Pacheco said that he was not an expert on disabilities but would approach the topic of disabilities from the perspective of diversity. He said that differences between people can create tension that leads to discrimination.

Chaparro-Pacheco said, “In approaching these matters of discrimination and human rights abuses and the role that diversity plays in our human interaction, that’s when I came to learn about disability and from people with disability.”

Next, Chaparro-Pacheco talked about ableness. He said ableness was an individual’s relationship with his or her own body.

Then he talked about “people-first language.” He said that some words, like handicapped, were developed with negative connotations and people should avoid using them.

“People-first language advocates for referring to a person first and from there to recognize the challenge of disability that this person lives with,” Chaparro-Pacheco said. Rather, he said, we should use language of “a person with disability rather than talking about the handicapped, a person with visual impairment rather than a blind guy.”

He said that after you get to know an individual with disabilities better, that person might teach you the words with which he or she prefers to be addressed.

Chaparro-Pacheco said, “By using people-first language first, you ensure that you are performing, that you are a competent professional, you know how to approach people living in these conditions and facing these challenges.”

After his talk, Chaparro-Pacheco answered questions from the audience.

The event was sponsored by Breaking Barriers.