El Alto

El Alto


This glossary includes words and ideas that you may encounter in this publication. Definitions are provided with some consideration of the different cultural contexts in which the words are used.












Ableism:  Ableism is the intentional or unintentional prejudice against disabled people.  It is translated in Spanish as Capacitismo. Its use has been introduced in Latin American countries in the last five years and refers to discrimination against people with disabilities by a society that values ​​“normative capacity” over disability.

Art-activism: Art-activism is the use of art as a channel for activism. It combines the words art and activism. The term artivismo is also used in Spanish speaking countries. 

Audism: Audism refers to discrimination against d/Deaf or hard of hearing people. 


BIPOC: BIPOC is a short-form way of saying, “Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour.” These terms are mostly used in Canada and the USA (See “Disability Justice”).  


Corporality: Corporality refers to the unique and personal experience of our bodies. It includes the mind, internal realities and emotional experiences. 

Crip: Crip is a reclaimed word used by some disabled people to self-identify. Disability scholar Kelly Fritsch says, when we crip, we “open up with desire for the ways that disability disrupts.”


Deaf: With a capital ‘D,’ Deaf refers to Deaf identity and culture. With a lower-case “d” deaf refers to the experience of not hearing or being hard-of-hearing. In Spanish there is no such differentiation. It is common though to use the terms deaf person – persona sorda, and deaf culture – cultura sorda.

Decolonization: Decolonization means working towards restoring the freedom and self-determination of Indigenous peoples. It means respecting Indigenous people and their lived experiences and moving away from ways of thinking that give white settlers unjust rights and privilege over Indigenous peoples and People of Colour. 

Disabled: People who identify as ‘disabled’ subscribe to the Social Model of Disability, the theory that society has been built without disabled people in the equation and understands that society creates barriers to access hence, people are disabled by society. The flip side to the Social Model is the Medical Model: this model understands disability as a ‘problem’ that belongs to the disabled individual, thus wanting to distance the individual from the label disability. 

Disability aesthetics: Aesthetics refer to our sense of what is beautiful, interesting, and fulfilling. Aesthetics also refer to how art makes us feel and how our sense of beauty influences what we create. Disability aesthetics invites us to think about disability as a desirable and celebrated way of being in the world. Disability aesthetics is not a commonly used term in Spanish speaking countries in Latin America but is becoming more common in academic contexts through the term estética de la discapacidad.

Disability justice: Disability justice is a form of activism led by and for disabled, queer and trans BIPOC. This form of activism focuses on experiences of disability and ableism from an intersectional perspective, which takes race, gender, sexuality, and class into account.  

Disca: Disca comes from the term discapacidad. It is used by young activists to self-identify as disabled. It is also used to describe a disability-led movement, the disca movement, and to refer to disca protest, disca art, and disca pride. 

Diversidad funcional: This term was introduced by the Independent Living movement in Spain to describe disabled people. It was later introduced in Latin American countries by Spanish activists and academics but its use is cause for debate. A majority disabled people in Latin America prefer to identify with discapacidad – disability – which follows the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 


Indigenous: In Canada, when we refer to Indigenous people, this includes First Nations, Inuit, and Métis People. In Latin America, it refers to the First Peoples of the land. 

Interdependence: Two or more people or things that take care of one another in respectful  and reciprocal ways.  

Intersectionality: This concept was created by Black feminist scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe overlapping systems of oppression. It means that not everyone experiences disability or marginalization the same way. For example,  some of us experience disability in a way that is impacted by our experience of race, gender, and sexuality. 


Loco/loca: These are the Spanish terms for mad used by some activists to reclaim the right to experience mental distress. The term “Orgullo loco” speaks to the pride of being mad. 


Mad: Mad is a reclaimed word of self-identification used by some people who experience mental distress and/or use the mental health system.


Neurodiverse: Neurodiverse refers to the idea that people experience things in many different ways. Our bodies, our minds, and our nervous systems are varied and include all kinds of different responses to our environments. A person who is neurodiverse may experience different sensations and responses to the world. Autism and autistic ways of thinking are common examples of neurodiversity, though there are many other ways  to be neurodiverse.  


Relaxed Performance: A Relaxed Performance is a type of theatre performance that is modified to be accessible for people with sensitivity to lights, sounds, and unexpected events. RP are also accessible to people who wish to move around or make sound during a performance, or who wish to leave and come back. RP sometimes includes a chill out space, visual story, and introductions to the cast at the beginning and end of the performance.


Sanism: Sanism refers to discrimination against people with lived experience in mental healthcare systems or institutions. The term cuerdismo is also used in Spanish. 


Teoría crip: This translation of the term crip theory is generally used by scholars and young activists in several Latin American countries. Similar terms, teoría tullida and teoría lisiada – cripple or lame theory, and teoría patoja – duck theory, have also become more common.  

Tullido/lisiado: Tullido and lisiado are reclaimed words of self-identification used by some disabled people, especially young activists. Because of the historical use of these words as pejoratives for physically disabled people, they are generally unacceptable to broader disabled communities.

This glossary was adapted from the Cripping the Arts Symposium Access Guide (2019), developed by Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology and Access to Life with new additions by 17, Instituto De Estudios Criticos.