The Tribune - Spectrum

, April 28, 2002

Another kind of alphabet salad
Kuldip Kalia

Dictionary of Disability
compiled by Aroop Sengupta, UBS Publishers. New Delhi. Pages. VI+ 239. Rs 175

Dictionary of DisabilityFROM ‘handicapped’ to ‘challenged’ is perhaps a long journey that the disabled have to travel. The word ‘handicapped’ sounds contemptuous, but a spirit of adventurism has been infused by making him a ‘challenged’ person. Thereby once the physically handicapped is now a physically ‘challenged’ individual.

The causes of disability range from hereditary to trauma. A person may be physically, mentally or visually impaired but providing help or spreading awareness among the affected individuals can make the life easier. The dictionary of disability identifies not only the different forms of disabilities but also provides details of each form which ultimately ensures early identification, prevention, intervention, rehabilitation and integration.

The disability, unfortunately, restricts the ability to engage in activity whether physical, mental or visual. There can either be a lack of will, motivation and concern or loss of any kind of possessed ability. Anyway, never say ‘Chd’ is always Chandigarh — it can be congenial heart defect is a disease in term of disability. Similarly ‘AFO’ is neither ‘Assistant Finance Officer’ nor ‘Assistant Forest Officer’, it is an ‘Ankle Foot Orthosis’.


Words like ‘Aphonia’ and ‘Apnea’ sound almost similar but fell apart in the conceptualisation of disability terms. ‘Aphonia’ signifies an inability to produce speech sound whereas "Apnea" identifies with the episodic arrest of breathing. Similarly ‘Diplepia’, is a kind of paralysis that affects both sides of the body. However in Diplopia’, one suffers from double vision. It occurs due to paralysis of ocular muscles. Moreover ‘Pica’ highlights the craving and eating of unusual food during certain medical conditions, particularly pregnancy. But ‘Picu’ is basically a paediatric care unit. Similarly ‘occlusion’ is the closing and filling together of dental structures but ‘ocular’ finds its meaning pertaining to the eye.

How many of us know that ‘cat scan’ is a computerised axial tomography? In simple words, the x-ray of the brain is taken to find out the structural abnormality. Moreover it is not always true that "all is well that ends well’ because ‘ALL’ here gives a signal for "Acute lymphocytic leukemia". It is a sort of blood cell production disorder. The abnormal white blood cells accumulate in the blood and bone morrow.

‘Salad’ is the mouth-watering word but how many of us have ever heard of "word salad". In terms of disability, ‘word salad’ is a mixture of words and phrases that lack comprehensive meaning or logical coherence. Anyway, at least once in a life, surely one suffers from one or other kind of phobia. But mind it, "zoophobia" is the pathological fear of animals.

Moreover, it depends how an individual spends the waiting period. For God’s sake not like this dictionary, which identifies ‘waiting period’ with the period of time between the "beginning of a disability and the day benefit begins". In other words, it can safely be said as ‘elimination period."

Anyhow, never get confused with words ‘Ureter’ and ‘urethra’. In both the cases, the word’ ‘tube’ is significant, however the operational working differs. In ‘ureter’, the urine is a carried from kidneys to the bladder but ‘urethra’ carries away from bladder to outside the body. At the same, the ‘shunt’ is commonly used term. It is a tube, which is inserted surgically. It can be between two blood vessels, two spaces or two organs. Never take the word ‘Scoliosis’ lightly. It is the curvature of the spine. It can either be congenital, acquired from poor posture or disease. Moreover be careful." Toxic deafness’ can occur due to the effect of drugs on sensory mechanism but in ‘tone deafness’, one is failed to distinguish between two sounds of different frequencies within the normal range.

Have you ever seen a blind bearing something on the head? Never afraid, it is a "sonicguide". In fact this is an electronic mobility device. It emits ultra sound and converts reflections from object into audible noise. Such terms and many more relating to the disabilities become the part of this dictionary. The compiler really deserves a word of appreciation and one must look for more comprehensive dictionary in future.