Ableism 101

This is Ableism

  • Forcing students to disclose their disability in front of the class.
  • Buildings without wheelchair ramps or elevators.
  • Not getting as many employment offers as able-bodied people.
  • Believing doctors and the medical system are the experts of people with disabilities’ experiences.

Ableism is social prejudice and oppression against people with disabilities. It can manifests in many forms, from institutional barriers and policies to everyday microaggressions. Those who do not have disabilities can be referred to as able-bodied.

This is Sanism

  • Saying terms like “crazy”, “psycho”, and “insane” to insult or saying “That’s so OCD/Bipolar.”
  • Forcing therapy and treatment.
  • Believing mental disorders makes someone evil or unable to be intelligent.

Sanism is a form of ableism against individuals whose experiences aren’t considered sane or neurotypical by society.Those who do not have mental disabilities can be referred to as sane or neurotypical.

This is Audism

  • Ignoring a Deaf person in a conversation.
  • Speaking with your back turned to a Deaf person.
  • Refusing to learn sign language to communicate with a Deaf family member.

Audism is prejudice and oppression against individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Those who do not have hearing disabilities are referred to as having hearing privilege.

Ableism is Systemic Oppression

Ableism is more than being an asshole to people with disabilities. When Institutions establish rules and customs that oppress and mistreat people with disabilities, it’s not always a direct example of ableism. These are pervasive and deeply engrained ways that society accepts as normal.

People with disabilities are often disempowered by having their right to choose what happens to them take away. Here are a few things every person with a disability should be able to choose:

  • How to be referred.
  • The kind of medication and treatment given.
  • Their boundaries and personal space.
  • How they communicate – be it verbal, gesturing, through sign language, writing, or not at all.
  • How they learn.
  • If and how allies help them out.

How to be a better ally

Ask permission before doing something for or to someone with a disability (ie. Holding a door open for a person who is blind).
Speak directly to someone, instead of towards an interpreter or Personal Support Worker.
Never touch someone’s cane, wheelchair, or other mobility aid without consent.
Caption your videos and images. Describing what a picture looks like or putting subtitles in your video help make media more accessible.
Do not assume sanity or accessibility needs.
Treat disability as differently-abled, not unable.

Disability Means:

  • Diversity
  • Independence
  • Dignity
  • Equal opportunities