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What does diff-abled mean?

I didn’t invent this term – it’s been quite widely used for a number of years. According to The Phrase Finder, diff-abled was ‘coined by the US Democratic National Committee in the early 1980s as a more ‘acceptable’ term than handicapped (or, in the UK, disabled)’.

I personally identify more with being differently-abled than dis-abled. For me, disabled focuses on what I lack, not what I bring. I’m not less, I’m just different. I see it like this – everyone is good at some things and not at others, and as we age, many of our bodies develop challenges even if we weren’t born with them. Everyone is differently-abled and we shouldn’t be afraid to show, and share how.

In 2018 I began a personal journey to understand myself better, and how my different-ability has influenced who I am and how I approach life. Part of that is sharing my experiences, openly and vulnerably, as I challenged myself to walk the South Downs Way – which I completed in 2019 and now in 2021 to use my daily lockdown walks to cover the 268 mile distance of the Pennine Way, virtually.