Ability: A concept that symbolizes or categorizes people based on person’s ways of navigating and negotiating society – physically, emotionally, psychologically, and/or mentally.
Ableism: Oppression, prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination against disabled people on the basis of actual or presumed disability. Source: http://www.autistichoya.com/p/definitions.html
- A system of superiority and discrimination that provides or denies resources, agency, and dignity based on one’s abilities (mental/intellectual, emotional, and/or physical.) Ableism depends on a binary and benefits able-bodied people at the expense of disabled people. Like other forms of oppression, ableism operates on the individual, institutional and cultural levels.
Able Body: People who do not have any physical or sensory disability or mobility impairment.
Access: One’s ability to know, find and/or use the tools and resources that will allow them to live whole and healthy lives.
Differently able: Can refer to any person with a disability and is usually a euphemistic phrase to avoid saying “disability” or “disabled.” Source: http://www.autistichoya.com/p/ableist-words-and-terms-to-avoid.html
Otherwise stated, terms are adapted from: Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Examples of walking privilege
Walking is an activity most people do every day without much thought, this is not the case for people who need support while walking or people who use wheelchairs. Here are some examples from Everyday Feminism– Liebowitz, Cara- http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/12/examples-walking-privilege/.
- Safely accessing public transportation
- Having more options when finding affordable housing.
- “Finding housing for anyone, especially in a big city, is difficult. But for wheelchair users, it can be next to impossible.”
- The means of mobility you rely on aren’t manipulated, touched, or leaned on by strangers.
- The ability of quickly exit a building in case of emergency.
- Your entire being isn’t defined by your means of mobility.
- You can see people that move like you being represented in a positive light on media.
- “With disability justice, we want to move away from the ‘myth of independence,’ that everyone can and should be able to do everything on their own. I am not fighting for independence, as much of the disability rights movement rallies behind. I am fighting for an interdependence that embraces need and tells the truth: no one does it on their own and the myth of independence is just that, a myth.”
- Changing the Framework: Disability Justice by Mia Mingus (5–9 minutes)
“And, like many movements, [the current disability rights movement] is contextualized within its era of emergence and left us with ‘cliff-hangers’: it is single issue identity based; its leadership has historically centered white experiences; its framework leaves out other forms of oppression and the ways in which privilege is leveraged at differing times and for various purposes; it centers people with mobility impairments, marginalizing other forms of impairment; and centers people who can achieve rights and access through a legal or rights-based framework. The political strategy of the disability rights movement relied on litigation and the establishment of a disability bureaucratic sector at the expense of developing a broad-based popular movement. While a concrete and radical move forward toward justice, the disability rights movement simultaneously invisibilized the lives of peoples who lived at intersecting junctures of oppression—disabled people of color, immigrants with disabilities, queers with disabilities, trans and gender non-conforming people with disabilities, people with disabilities who are houseless, people with disabilities who are incarcerated, people with disabilities who have had their ancestral lands stolen, amongst others. In response to this, in 2005, disabled activists of color, originally queer women of color incubated in progressive and radical movements that did not systematically address ableism—namely, myself, Mia Mingus, and Stacey Milbern, soon to be joined by Leroy Moore, Eli Clare and Sebastian Margaret . . . ultimately launched a framework we called Disability Justice.”
- Seven things you should stop saying and doing to disabled people Guardian readers Wed 15 Nov 2017 06.00 GMT
Seven people reveal their everyday disabilism bugbears
1. Don’t call me ‘brave’
People think that if you have a disability, you shouldn’t associate yourself with anything to do with beauty. In their perception, disability equals “ugly” or “unattractive”. Of course, it’s ridiculous. Who said being disabled disqualifies you from being beautiful? Whether a disability is visible or invisible, people with a disability can be fabulously attractive on so many levels. But you’re almost disqualified from looking good. Sometimes people will say to me: “You are so pretty but you are in a wheelchair …” It’s those small things that are really belittling.
I do cringe when people marvel at me, saying I must be “brave” or “inspiring” – just because I am out shopping on my own. “You must be so brave.” I find this phrase very patronising. Don’t say this to me unless I have wrestled a tiger or a crocodile or done something extraordinary like fly to the moon and back. I don’t see how I can be inspiring by getting on with life.
Anne Wafula Strike MBE, 47, Essex
2. Don’t use baby-talk
It’s irritating when people talk to me as if I’m a child – they spot my hearing aids, and they suddenly think they need to revert to loud, slow baby-talk for me to understand them. But I struggle with my hearing, not my comprehension. I can ask you to speak up or more clearly if I need you to!
Joshua Salisbury, 22, Stoke-on-Trent
3. Don’t ask what my disabilities are
I wish people would stop asking what my disabilities are. It’s an intrusive and unnecessary question; you only need to know what my access needs are, not why I have those needs. You wouldn’t ask a non-disabled person to give details about their medical history, so why should it be different for me? If I want you to know, I’ll tell you.
Alice Kirby, 26, Sheffield
4. Don’t assume all disabled people look the same
I wish people would stop thinking that the world is made up of purely able-bodied individuals and that the tiny minority who are disabled are easily identifiable. Not looking stereotypically blind, people assume I can see perfectly well. This mindset is something that will continue to keep us at the periphery of society, especially if people restrict their understanding of disability to a picture in their heads that says all disabled people look the same. Broaden what you believe a blind person looks like from just cane-wielding. We don’t all look the same – just as able-bodied people don’t.
Alex Lee, 22, London
5. Don’t help me without asking
The one thing I wish people would stop doing is assuming I need assistance without asking. From trying to help me lock up my bike to my food being served already cut up, it’s patronising, frustrating and can sometimes be embarrassing.
Devarshi Lodhia, 23, Cambridge
6. Don’t give misplaced advice
People say: “Hey, when is your leg going to be better?” My favourite is: “Sister, come to my church and you will be healed as God will forgive your sins.” Usually at this point, I point out that a) my disability, poliomyelitis, was not genetic, it was acquired as an infant and b) we’re all sinners and that they should be forgiven too. I also get: “Shall I call you a taxi?” while walking towards my car. Sometimes, if I’m with some friends at a restaurant, the waiter doesn’t ask me for my order, but says to my friend: “What is she going to have?” I then say that she is able to speak for herself.
I find that the general public have good intentions but, seriously, think before dishing out misplaced advice to me about how you think about my disability. Other times, I think that there’s a lot of unconscious bias towards disability and if you don’t fit the box, people just can’t understand that the box is a construct.
Placida Uzoamaka Ojinnaka, 41, Enfield
7. Don’t assume my disability defines me
I believe that feeling irritation towards those expressing disablist views is a futile act. It’s self-defeating to allow perspectives that stem from a lack of understanding or empathy to occupy me. But sometimes it’s unavoidable. It’s frustrating when people see physical disability as anything other than a few logistical difficulties that I have to be creative with and find ways around. It doesn’t define my motivations, ambition and identity, so why should anyone have this preconception?
Lottie Jackson, 25, Bristol
Overcoming Ableism – YouTube 11 mins https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1xnyVCBYNQ
Casual Ableist Language – YouTube 5 mins https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1xnyVCBYNQ
Dismantling Ableism in Ontario – YouTube 26 mins https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TI9uG1mZu2M
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