Joss is a disabled character. This is a proper term of use.

With the release of Joss Kendrick, American Girl's first character with a visible disability, it's now a good time to clarify terms of use for people with disabilities/disabled persons.

Here at the A*G Wiki, we will use the appropriate words for disabilities. Which is, in fact, disability or disabled. One of the admins has a disability and is involved - albeit not heavily as others - in the disability community in various ways, including family and friends.

Real people with disabilities like to be called the terms they choose, so it is best to ask. If Joss were a real person, we would ask her what she wants to be called. But since she--and Maryellen Larkin--are characters, it is perfectly appropriate to call them disabled characters or characters with disabilities.

Specifically, Joss is hard of hearing/deaf, and Maryellen due to polio has physical strength and pulmonary issues (and in the stories, but not visible on the doll, has a slight difference in her legs). Maryellen has a mostly invisible disability. Joss has a visible disability, since her hearing aid is visible in her right ear.

"Cutesy" or covert language--such as differently-abled, "special needs", "person of unique needs", and other such nonsense--hides the facts of disability and does not help people or show the actuality of their needs. Do not use cutesy or fluff language, nor condescending or rude language, about disability. Do not use ableist terms. This falls under our global rule of bigotry.

Attempts to use inappropriate, condescending, and/or rude language will be corrected and addressed and, if not course-corrected by the user, lead to blocks or bans as needed. Admin Neth doesn't have enough spoons to give a fork.

--The Admins

Examples and sources:

"But as actually disabled people will tell you, their disabilities are a vital part of who they are. That's why many prefer "identity-first language," in which the disability is put front and center in the terms we use. Examples include terms like “disabled people” or “Deaf person” rather than “person with a disability. [...] "I can't hear properly, but no amount of condescending language is going to change that," said Meg Szydlik, a student [...] who is disabled. "I'm also not Daredevil, and I didn’t gain superpowers from my disability, which is always what 'handicapable' makes me think of." It’s Perfectly OK To Call A Disabled Person ‘Disabled,’ And Here's Why (accessed 1/2/2020)

"It is okay to use words or phrases such as "disabled," "disability," or "people with disabilities" when talking about disability issues." Respectful Disability Language

Less Appropriate: physically challenged, handi-capable, inconvenienced, differently-abled

Comment: To some people, these euphemisms avoid reality and rob people of dignity. Alternative words to the term “disability” are usually efforts to avoid the negative stigma ATTACHED to the word rather than seeing disability as neutral. (Cutesy-pie labels are uninformative and trivialize an important part of a person’s identity. They tend to describe everyone and therefore no one.) They are not necessarily more "politically correct."

More Appropriate: a person has a physical, sensory or mental disability
Unhandicap Your Language

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