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Is it acceptable to use a disabling term in a questionnaire?

(37 Posts)
AlexanderHamilton Wed 05-Apr-17 19:00:49

Ds has been sent a link to a questionnaire by school. He gets at least one a week, I think it's something to do with a project various 6th formers are doing. No problem with that.

However this one is about attitudes the general public have to a certain condition. It's a condition that some of our family members have. The first question is which of these words best describe someone with this condition. Amongst the list of words is the R word.

I was a bit taken aback but ds says this word is one that he hears used in school & he has actually been called it himself.

There then follows some questions which demonstrate a lack of knowledge of the questionnaire writer but I can forgive that.

I'm not sure whether I should contact the school about this or am I being too sensitive?

Trifleorbust Wed 05-Apr-17 19:03:00

I don't get it. Isn't the questionnaire trying to survey attitudes? As horrible as it is, that is an attitude that some people take.

How was the question worded?

Biker47 Wed 05-Apr-17 19:04:34

R word?

Surely if it's a questionnaire about "the attitudes the general public have to a certain condition" censoring words the general public may well use, will just give you incorrect data and provide you with no conclusion or remedy you're aiming for?

AlexanderHamilton Wed 05-Apr-17 19:06:32

To me it's as offensive as trying to find out attitudes towards for example blacks people & including the N word in a list of options.

AlexanderHamilton Wed 05-Apr-17 19:07:25

It's been sent to all years from Year 7 up to 6th form.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Wed 05-Apr-17 19:07:30

I think that if it is likely that if some of the public would view people with this condition as "retards" then of course it should be in the questionnaire.

Oddbins Wed 05-Apr-17 19:07:56

Context is all

AlexanderHamilton Wed 05-Apr-17 19:08:16

Excuse the typos in my previous post an extra s was added.

Trifleorbust Wed 05-Apr-17 19:08:28


But some people do think or even say 'nigger' (sorry - not going to censor the language), so if you want to explore their attitudes, what would be the point of not using that word in your survey? confused

Biker47 Wed 05-Apr-17 19:08:54

What's the word?

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Wed 05-Apr-17 19:09:37

To me it's as offensive as trying to find out attitudes towards for example blacks people & including the N word in a list of options

But the questionnaire would have no validity if you deliberately prevent certain responses.

drquin Wed 05-Apr-17 19:12:13

Tough one ..... because I think the PPs may have a point, depending on context obviously.

On the face of it, if survey is asking what you think of folk with X condition / how would you describe people with Y disability, then to deliberately exclude some known (but quite possibly unacceptable to the majority) words may give you a skewed survey result.

AlexanderHamilton Wed 05-Apr-17 19:12:14

I just think that a different word could & should have been used such as mentally disabled or unintelligent.

I also think it would be different if it was adults answering, not secondary aged children.

WyfOfBathe Wed 05-Apr-17 19:12:20

If they're trying to look at attitudes to disability, then they do need to acknowledge that some people will use slurs. I assume that the point of the survey is that they will then be able to look at how to combat disablist attitudes or see how they affect the lives of people with disabilities?

Crispbutty Wed 05-Apr-17 19:12:39

Surely the whole point of the task is to show that retard is an offensive word when used in this context and shouldn't be used. confused

ZackyVengeance Wed 05-Apr-17 19:13:46

Menatally disabled or unintelligent jeez
Those terms are as bad as retarded.

DPotter Wed 05-Apr-17 19:13:46

Think you might be missing the point of the questionnaire - if someone is researching the various types of disability, they will have to ask questions using the words and phrases in common usage. Like it or not (and I agree with you I don't) retard is a word in all too common usage. You could get a very different answer to a question such as " Do you think people with cerebral palsy should be in mainstream schools" as opposed to "Do you think retarded people should be in mainstream schools". In a good questionnaire you should be asked both ways - its called a 'Lie scale ' and is used to weed out respondants who answer questions as they think the asker wants them to reply, not how they really feel.

AlexanderHamilton Wed 05-Apr-17 19:14:16

My ds who is aged 12 & answering the questionnaire has the condition.

Trifleorbust Wed 05-Apr-17 19:14:22

But 'mentally disabled' is suggestive of an entirely different attitude to 'retard', as is 'unintelligent'. If you KNOW that secondary age children have attitudes towards people with disabilities or conditions and you want to quantify that, you have to look at what they are actually saying, not what you would like them to be saying.

Trifleorbust Wed 05-Apr-17 19:15:04

Sorry, to clarify, I don't mean anyone wants them to say 'mentally disabled'! I mean you can't censor the language and expect to get an accurate result.

Glossolalia Wed 05-Apr-17 19:15:20

I agree with other posters. The language needs to reflect what people may use.

I had a disability discrimination exam at a previous job and one of the questions was;

"Which of the following is an acceptable term to use to describe someone who uses a wheelchair?"

A) Spastic
B) Cripple
C) Retard
D) Person with a disability

It's horrible to see the words written down, but clearly some people in my old company were getting this wrong or they wouldn't need the question!

TomaytoTomahto Wed 05-Apr-17 19:16:59

Surely to find out how someone's attitude is towards a particular subjects requires words depicting said attitude be included in the answers? This is to ensure accuracy of the results. Altering the answer into something more "palatable" defeats the purpose of the questionnaire.

WyfOfBathe Wed 05-Apr-17 19:17:08

I also think it would be different if it was adults answering, not secondary aged children.
But you've said yourself that your DS has heard the word used before, so it's not like the survey has introduced him to a new term.

Is your son in Year 7 by any chance? Most secondary students aren't really "children" but teenagers/young people who do have strong views and are aware of issues such as discrimination.

WyfOfBathe Wed 05-Apr-17 19:18:52

If you're DS has been called a retard in school due to his condition, then that should be raised as a problem with school. That's a separate issue to its use in an attitudes survey.

AlexanderHamilton Wed 05-Apr-17 19:19:38

It just shocked me that this was distributed to everyone.

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