It has been said repeatedly that words matter, to both the sender and the recipient. Over the past few decades the terms we have used in the disability services area to identify the recipients of our services has evolved. In the earlier days of deinstitutionalization, while under the influence of what was commonly referred to as the “Medical Model”, service recipients were called “patients”. This later evolved to “Clients”. Interestingly enough, the prevailing theory of the medical model and subsequent services was that the goal was essentially to “cure” the person with a disability. As our systems have matured and evolved, and we shifted to supports and services and focused more on empowerment for and choice by people served, terms like “consumer” and “customer” became fashionable.
At Ability Connection, we identify the people we serve as “Members.” Why members? Being a Member of Ability Connection reflects both a sense of individual choice and belonging to a group. There was a tag line for a credit card company in the 90’s that stated “Membership has its privileges.” As a part of the Ability Connection family, our members enjoy the privileges of ownership and should and do expect our best effort every day to focus on what is most important to them and their families. Although we focus on each person individually, our members know and enjoy the fact that they are part of a larger and highly supportive community.