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Nike: Disability is Not a Bad Word

In a February 1st press release, Nike launched the Go FlyEase, a “hands free” shoe offering an “intuitive” fit without shoelaces. Observers quickly questioned if this product, ostensibly made with the disabled community in mind, erased their presence entirely.

Erasing the Term Disability?

Nike describes its “tensioner,” the engineering design that permits easy slip-on functionality, as the “basis for accessible and empowering design.” This term, “empowering,” prompted some to ask whether the company was framing accessibility and inclusion as a flashy marketing tool geared toward the able-bodied.

This kind of oversight stigmatizes the disabled by negating them. Nike should recognize: there is no shame in the word “disability,” and the marketing campaign is ignorant – or, worse, flat-out ableist – in shying away from it.

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