Before we start let us first define what Ableism means. According to google it is
discrimination in favour of able-bodied people.
Cambridge Dictionary defines it as :
unfair treatment of people because they have a disability (an illness, injury or condition that makes it difficult for them to do things that other people do).
I hope that gives a general understanding of the phrase especially if you have not heard of it before.
So, why am I writing about this? I came across a few things online and it got me thinking and opened my eyes to what ableism is. Admittedly I have only heard about the term this year and I am still learning about the different ways that words we use can be ableist but hey we can learn together right? I am by no means an expert and so my learning is still progressional.
We need to question why some words are used and also see how it can be offensive to people who have disabilities. An example provided by the people with disability group Australia uses the term 'blind' ; the context in which this is used can be offensive and ableist and I'd recommend that you read their page for more information. Even using the term 'tone deaf' could be seen as ableist. We should be mindful of the words we use and if in doubt do not use them at all.
Access Living provides other examples of ableism such as having inaccessible buildings and not considering it when constructing a new building. I write this post assuming that we realise that disability covers more than using a wheelchair; disability is broad and not all disabilities are 'visible'. As their page explains, inaccessible buildings can include not having braille around the building, particularly in lifts, an induction loop, wheelchair access and much more. It is 2020 and accessible buildings should be a given/ a must have and not a 'nice to have' when constructing buildings. Another part that they discussed as being ableist is building inaccessible websites. That made me pause and think. Truthfully I never considered that when building my website or using other social media sites such as instagram. It is only recently that I understood what the 'alternative text' in instagram means. Knowing what I know now I must do better in making my website and social media pages more accessible for all. I cannot assume that everyone that reads my work does not have a disability and where I can make it easier for everyone to read it I should endeavour to do so. Thankfully my website provider has a useful post in ways of making your website more accessible.
Ableism covers a range of medical conditions such as those who are blind, deaf, disabled, autistic and much more. It is also important to realise that one person should not now be seen as a spokesperson for all and so just because you have a friend that may not mind you addressing them a certain way does not mean that all other people who are disabled would accept that. It is a learning process and we should be humble enough to accept where we go wrong because make no mistake, we will get it wrong on the journey. Even in writing this post I may have gotten some phrases wrong and if so accept my humble apologies. I would be keen to speak with those who have suffered from Ableism and ways that those who are considered 'able bodied' can shut up and listen so we can do better. Because you do not want to be that person who becomes a spokesperson for a cause when something now happens to them. When you think about it we should all care about ableism as it affects us all.