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A Lesson on Ableism

In the following piece I use the words "challenge" and "disability" almost interchangeably. Not everyone sees their challenge as a disability. Nor does everyone see their disability as a challenge.


It is a word that seems to be making more of an appearance in our society these days. Yet it does not get enough attention. In fact it is a word that is often overlooked at it’s best. Or completely minimized and dismissed at it’s worse. If you are someone who has a challenge or disability. It is a word that you’ve probably run into more than a few times.

What is ableism? Pretty much discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities. Or those who are perceived to have a disability. Often times this is done by people who are well meaning, but have a complete lack of understanding, of the challenges and struggles that we (those with disabilities) face.

How this takes place and what form can vary from person to person. It can a simple asking someone out right “what is wrong with them” as it relates to a specific challenge. Telling someone that they “don’t look like they have a disability” even if it meant as a compliment. Sometimes it can be more extreme. Such as assuming that someone’s challenge is the result of being lazy or a lack of exercise. Or having an open hostility to the idea of making reasonable accommodations so that those with disabilities can take a more active part in society.

Many of us in the community have to deal with this stuff on a daily basis. Most times it can be very minor. At other times it is more extreme. In these cases, it can test our own ability to remain calm and collected, even though the world itself seems to come across as being against us.

The core problem with ableism is that it removes the dignity of those with disabilities. We live in a society that is built for the able. The world does not always have a mindset of being more open to those who do not fit the mold of being “normal”. When you look at things more deeply. It is more than contending with basic accommodations. It is more along the lines of having a better attitude when it comes to being accepting. We must take great effort to make sure that we are not passing extreme judgement on those who face challenges. Nor do anything that would minimize and devalue the issues that we have to take on daily.

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