Programa 115: Patrick nos envía una nueva

Hoy Patrick nos salva y nos envía una nueva Keynote para que hable poco @Javtweet que sigue acatarrado. Nos habla del programa 102 que hicimos con Nuria y Sixsense Travel. Además nos cuenta algunas pronunciaciones diferentes en Irlanda con respecto a las del Reino Unido, o al menos la zona de Londres. Aquí la keynote. A continuación la transcripción de lo que nos cuenta Patrick:

Welcome to a new Keynote Response.

Today I’m going to comment on some of the aspects of Key to English Programme 102 in which Salvi and Javi interviewed Nuria, who recently moved from Spain to somewhere just outside Dublin with her partner Juanjo and their son, Eric.

First of all, I’d like to wish them all the best on their Irish adventure. 

I’d also like to give them a traditional Irish blessing:

May you get all your wishes but one, so you always have something to strive for.

I’ll leave that one for Salvi & Javi to translate for homework.

Although Nuria did mention some of the curiosities of Irish English pronunciation, such as the number three being pronounced “tree” or the number five being pronounced “foive”, because the whole programme was in Spanish, I’m sad to say that I won’t be able to comment today on any of Salvi’s or Javi’s mistakes or errors in English.

So, I’ll seize the opportunity instead to comment on some of the issues that cropped up in the interview.

But before I do so, I’d just like to refer back to that three/tree example and to tell you an anecdote about an interesting chat I had once with a pilot who flies for Ryanair, an Irish airline.

We were talking about difficult landings and take-offs and he kept mentioning the importance of ‘trust’. Which was fine, I could agree with that.

 But something wasn’t quite right and I couldn’t get over a nagging doubt I had until I suddenly realised that, being Irish, he possibly, probably wasn’t pronouncing the ‘th’ and the word he was actually saying was one that I would pronounce as ‘thrust’.

Which is, of course, the power or force needed to make an aircraft move.

So, back on topic.

Salvi and Nuria both point out how important technology is for everyone and of the need for incorporating aspects of accessibility into the basic design of everything.

Because technology doesn’t only refer to sending satellites into space. It also applies to most basic aspects of our daily lives; from the appliances we use in the kitchen to the way the door opens.

And we all know how important it is for things to be user-friendly and accessible.

However, this is typically something we seldom consider until we find ourselves in a situation in which we’re limited in some way, even if only temporarily, by having to use crutches, for example.

Nuria mentions how a ramp benefits people with a pushchair, not just wheelchair users 

And the case of the automated announcements on public transport.


And I’m fairly strong, but I often have problems opening jars and even the simple screw top on a brik of milk, so I can’t imagine how older people manage! There is, in fact, a brand of milk that does have a screw top that’s much easier to open, so it’s clearly possible for simple, everyday things to be designed better.

And I’m sure you could all come up with some examples of situations in which some or even most people are limited in some way on a daily basis.

It’s clear that everyone can benefit from accessible and user-friendly design.

Nuria talks about the QR codes now being used by restaurants instead of printed menus. But again, she points out how they can be done well or they can be done badly.

And Salvi mentions the audio guides at museums, which clearly benefit many people, not just people with disabilities or disabled people.

But then she goes on to point out the problem of the touchscreen audio guide at Toledo Cathedral.

And she also goes on to give the example of the metal embossed Braille signs that burn the fingertips because they’re all day in the sun. 

Nuria explained that as the equivalent of a sighted person not being able to read a sign because of the reflection of the sun.

What great examples of how not to do things!

And my particular bugbear are precisely touchscreens. 

I hate ‘em!

Possibly they’re cheaper to manufacture and maintain because they have fewer moving parts, but in what way do they benefit the ordinary user? I can think of no advantage.

They are certainly not user-friendly.

When it’s pouring down with rain in the middle of the Atlantic, I can’t use my smartphone because each raindrop that hits the touchscreen affects the device in a way 

that I don’t want it to, for example, it cancels the call I’m trying to make or it closes the map I’m trying open so I know where I am or… 

And believe me, there are many raindrops out there in the middle of the Atlantic!

Several students and other people have asked me over the years about the difference in English between the terms “people with disabilities” or “persons with disabilities”, on the one hand and “disabled people” on the other hand.

Although I’ve spent many years teaching English to people with different disabilities, I have no specialised knowledge in these matters, so I can only approach this from the language perspective.

To begin with, I’ll consider three aspects:

The first is the difference between “people” and “persons”; 

The second is the difference between “disability” and “disabilities”;

And the third is whether to use “person-first language” or “identity-first language”.

In English we use the term “person” to refer to an individual. The plural, “persons”, is quite rare, at least in everyday use and is normally limited to formal or legal language.

I’ll give an example of this in a moment.

The normal plural of “person” is “people”, which is why we would normally say, for example, that there are ten people in the room, not that there are ten persons in the room.

So, I checked the website of the World Health Organization, which specifically points out that they use the term “persons with disabilities” only in the context of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

They specify that in all other documents they use the term “people with disability”.

And they make the important distinction that the term “disabilities” refers to specific and individual health conditions. In other words, the term “disabilities” reflects a medical approach, whereas the term “disability” is a universal human experience and not intrinsic to an individual. 

So disability refers to the attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinder full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

Possibly in accordance with that convention, the EU also refers mainly to “citizens with disabilities”, “persons with disabilities” and to “women, men and children with disabilities”, and also, occasionally, to “disabled people”.

That said, the term favoured in the United States is “people with disabilities” and the favoured British English term is “disabled people”.

So, in the United States, apart from the title of the law, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the law mostly refers to “an individual with disabilities”, “individuals with disabilities”, “person with a disability”, “a person with disabilities”, “persons with disabilities” and “people with disabilities”.

Which would seem to cover all the variations of a theme.

However, just to confuse things a little bit more, the same Act also refers to “disabled person”, “disabled people”, “disabled individuals” and “nondisabled individuals”.

I hope you all got all that.

No-one can accuse US lawmakers of not being inclusive.

The UK’s more recent Equality Act 2010 is much simpler and “defines a disabled person as a person with a disability”. 

It specifically uses the terms “disabled person” and “disabled people”, as well as “disabled children”.

Finally, although I’ve approached this from a language perspective, it’s obviously not only a matter of semantics.

Part of the confusion arises from the politically correct 1980s, when health care professionals started to move away from the medical model of disability, 

with all those traditional terms that stigmatised people as victims or patients requiring health care and away all those old collective terms with the definite article “the” in front, 

such as “the blind” or “the disabled”.

They preferred instead to use “person-first language” that identifies the person before the disability.

This is the model that still prevails in the US.

However, many disabled people themselves insist that their disabilities are a vital part of who they are and that it’s not necessary to remind them that they are people. 

That’s why they tend to prefer “identity-first language” based on a social model of disability. 

This is the model that prevails in the UK.

Of course, all of this is a matter of debate for other forums, not the Key to English podcast, but I hope that at least some of what I’ve explained helps shed some light on the language aspects of the debate.

OK, that’s it for today. 

As usual, you’ll find the references I’ve used at the end of the transcript.

I’d also like to apologise for the sniffles I’ve got. I think on my return to Madrid I’ve developed an allergy to the city…

Anyway, I’ll just sign off with another Irish blessing:

May today be better than yesterday, but not as good as tomorrow.

Thank you for listening. 

Bye for now!


[ NHS.]

  • Scope: “Social model of disability”. [ Scope.]
  • United Nations: “Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Are the terms “disability” and “persons with disabilities” defined in the Convention?” [—sabilities.html#sqc3 United Nations.]
  • Wong, Brittany (2021): “It’s Perfectly OK To Call A Disabled Person ‘Disabled,’ And Here’s Why”. [ HuffPost.]
  • World Health Organization: “Disability: ‘People with disability’ vs ‘persons with disabilities’” (2020). [ World Health Organization.]

Un micrófono con una flecha hacia un archivo de word indica una transcripción de un trabajo oral a su equivalencia escrita.