Social media not only connects me to the world, and help me feel included, I also learn new words and phrases I’ve never heard of before.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ableism as “discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities.”
It’s too simplified because it’s not as clear-cut as the definition would have you think.
Wikipedia further defines it as a “term used for a social ideology under which able-bodiedness is privileged, often resulting in discrimination or social prejudice against people with disabilities.”
For me, ableism occurs in the following examples:
Assuming I have no experience working in retail or hospitality because it deals with the public or speaking with people. I have serving and bartending experience. Being a server/bartending in a noisy environment is actually effective for me because I don’t need to “hear” the orders as long as I can see them. It’s discouraging when I try to volunteer or apply for casual work in this area and the organizers refuse to even ask if I have had any experience.
Taking over my autonomy. Ordering for me, or answer questions directed at me. Even when they think they’re being helpful, it’s irritating. Even more irritating is when someone takes it upon themselves to tell a stranger that I’m deaf, and I need to be looking at them when they talk. (You know who you are. Stop it.) It’s one thing for someone trying to call me without response, and my friend would look at me and say, “hey, someone just called your name.” – That is just bringing my attention to something, not bringing someone’s attention to my disability.
The need to know how I became deaf. I actually don’t know. I might have been born deaf, or it might have been something that happened at birth. But I don’t know why anyone should need to have this information. I’ll volunteer it if I think it’s relevant, but otherwise, I see no reason to share this information.
The assumption that disability must be visible. I take the bus frequently. Sometimes, on a crowded bus, I might not hear someone say excuse me behind me, until that person physically shoves me aside.Most people might lightly press my arm or back and I’ll take my cue to step aside, but I’ve had people push me without warning as they try to get by.
Accessibilty in public spaces. A conference organized by a organization might think they have it covered by selecting a wheelchair-accessible location; but may not have thought about providing materials in braille, arrange for sign language interpretors, etc.
Assessible internet. There has been a big push for voice-based apps. This is not effective for me – however, someone pointed out that a blind person might find this very useful.
These are a few examples of the challenges I face every day in a society that presumes that its citizens possess the full range of physical and sensory capacities. As we move further away from an ableist approach, more people are able to participate in and shape that society.
Today’s webcam snaps:
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.
Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.
Published March 7, 2016