Is “Invalid” still appropriate to use when referring to disabled persons?

When driving around, I’ll often see vans that are labeled “Invalid Coach”. I just saw one today, and wondered it it’s still an appropriate word to use, as it just seems insensitive.

I wouldn’t use it.

“Disabled” and “invalid” are not synonyms. Disability can have many different degrees. An “invalid” is someone who is so disabled that they can’t even perform basic actions for themself, and so need a full-time assistant of some sort. It’s stronger even than “total disability”, which refers to someone sufficiently disabled that they can’t work. If we don’t use the word “invalid”, then we’d need some other word to replace it.

Around here, we used to call that an Ambivalid.

To me it has an outmoded, wrong feel to it. If it’s not yet inappropriate it should be, especially when the other meaning of the word, as pronounced with an emphasis on the middle syllable, is basically a synonym for ‘wrong’. It’s like saying a person with a disability is not a ‘valid’ person.

I’ve always assumed that’s exactly what it originally meant.

One distinction is that you can be an invalid without being disabled.

No, the two words have different etymologies. One is just a negation of valid meaning “correct”, the other comes via French from a Latin word that already meant infirm/weak (via a negation of validus meaning “strong”)

It’s a perfectly valid term.

Another quibble. Some organizations prefer “persons with disabilities” over “disabled persons”.

I was driving home the other day, thinking about the Washington Football Team and the Cleveland Guardians when a Jeep Cherokee pulled up next to me. WTF?

My parents didn’t mean anything negative by it, but they referred to people as “colored” or maybe “negro.” Those terms are no longer used…except of course for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the United Negro College Fund.

It used to be considered nasty to call someone queer…now it seems that for some, you better use it, and use it correctly.

Where will it end? Who decides?

I’d ask the “invalid” how he/she (they for some?) wish to be addressed. Mostly I think I’m reaching an age where if I offend someone I’ll try to change but if they want to get their panties in a bunch they can fuck off.

Thanks! Will keep that in mind.

I think the main thing is to make sure to remember that there are people who are being labeled. And some people would prefer just to be people, not “guy in wheelchair” (for example).

I am pondering what it should be labeled if “Invalid Coach” shouldn’t be used.

Microsoft uses the term Accessibility for their tools to help people with disabilities.

But “Accessible Coach” seems weird, as does “Transport Service Coach”. “Assistive Transport Coach?”

Never. And society (ideally based on what the minority in question say).

The oddness is thinking that language and what is acceptable will ever stop changing.

As for the original topic: I agree that the term “invalid” seems like it would be problematic. From my search, it does not seem to have a different etymology: it comes from the legal concept of validity, which is also where we get the idea of an invalid concept.

Obviously we’d need to check with those who the term could be applied, but the fact that we so rarely hear the word anymore suggests to me that it is at least seen as old fashioned. It doesn’t in any way conform to the modern “rules” on how you talk about people.

As for labeling the van, it would make more sense to me to label what they actually do, not who they help. Just because you may need one such service doesn’t mean you’d need them all. It’s easy to conceive of someone who, say, needs a so-called “invalid lift” to get out of bed, but can feed themselves.

Whether or not you think “invalid” is offensive, it’s definitely a term that people would be resistant in applying to themsevles, same as “disabled.” It would be like naming your psychologist office “Crazy people therapy.”

I was watching Colbert once and he had actress/singer Audra McDonald on. I wish I could find a clip of it. The exchange was something like,

Colbert: Do you prefer black…African American…?
McDonald: Either. And you…Caucasian…?
Colbert: I prefer ‘whitey.’

Later they duetted on something and after she sang her bit, she did a callback: he took his verse and and she sang, “Tell your story, whitey…”

That was sooo damn funny!

Ahem. The thing is, of course you’ll never get 100% of the group in question to agree on a term. So they need to cut the well-meaning a little slack.

I agree that it’s probably not good to be calling people “invalid” (with any pronunciation and etymology), but that still leaves the question of what word to use instead. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any other word with the same meaning.

I first heard these kinds of changes referred to as the euphemism treadmill. It’s only a matter of time before persons with disabilities, enslaved persons, or whatever is currently in fashion will be out of fashion. While that’s sometimes annoying, I’ve made my peace with it because language changes. That’s just the nature of the beast.

ISTR some ppl thinking “African American” was a put-down because it starts with African, implying that they’re more African than American. Ugh.

I grew up with the term “Oriental” meaning “Someone from Asia.” As I learned about language, it turns out that the term means “from the East.” Not as well known—Occidental, “from the West.” But now we’re supposed to call them Asian, and that’s fine. It’s just that they literally ARE Oriental. But I guess it traces back to a time when that was stated like it was a “dirty word” or something.

“Micro aggressions,” anyone? I’ll be over here, sucking my thumb in the corner.

Being a disabled person, a part of a distributed community of other such persons, I’m surprised to see that guide. I’ve seen a strong preference for “disabled person” as opposed to “person with disability”.

My mother grew up with Oriental and I’ve had to remind her to use Asian instead. But I’m going to be in the same boat. I refer to slaves as slaves rather than enslaved people, I don’t see myself ever using LatinX instead of Latino, I will probably always say pregnant women instead of pregnant people, and no doubt other words/terms that will cause my nieces to roll their eyes and tell me, “That’s not what we say now, Uncle Odesio.”

As I understand it, the ‘r’ word is now taboo; but, unlike other examples of the euphemism treadmill, I genuinely have no idea what’s supposed to replace it these days.

(I mean, yeah, like you, I’m at peace with going along with whatever the current term is — and that, whatever that current term is, it’ll presumably give way to something else before long. But even with a gun to my head, I couldn’t swap in the current okay way to say it — or even my best guess, because, well, I honestly don’t have one.)