Letter: Appropriate terms for disability: a start, not a solution

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is a great pity that arguments about an acceptable alternative to the phrase 'mental handicap' should have got muddled with jibes about political correctness, as evidenced in Michael Durham's article, 'Mencap vows to keep its name' (20 July).

Mencap's stubbornness in adhering to the outdated term 'mental handicap' conveniently ignores the simple fact that, whenever they have been given the opportunity to express an opinion, people with learning difficulties (not parents, whom Mencap represents) have been adamantly opposed to 'mental handicap'. They have preferred 'learning difficulties', and even the Government has now adopted the alternative of 'learning disabilities'.

Why should Mencap imply that getting language right and developing better services are mutually exclusive? A spokesman for Mencap says that a change of name will not make a difference to the problems people face. True, if, of course, you don't believe that a name which demeans them and confuses the public is a problem.

Yours faithfully,

TERRY PHILPOT

Editor

Community Care

Sutton, Surrey

21 July

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