The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities embraces human differences and disability as part of human diversity. People with disability have rights which must be respected, protected and fulfilled, just like everyone else. The UN human rights video on ableism explains succinctly.
Ableism is based on a value system that assumes people with certain body and mind characteristics must have a quality of life that is very low.
The short video animation below aims to raise awareness of the barriers faced by people with disabilities in everyday life. The video is intended for the general public, advocacy organizations, policymakers, human rights defenders, and educators.
Other human rights videos in the United Nations series.
Legal capacity for all explains how people with disability are denied their rights because they don’t have supported decision-making available.
Participation of people with disabilities benefits all makes the case for involving people with disability in making decisions about their lives.
Sexual and reproductive rights of girls and young women with disabilities discusses abuse and neglect and harmful practices and forced sterilisations.
Ableism and urban planning
The COVID pandemic lockdowns have shown more people what it’s like not to be able to get out and about when you want to. But do the calls for “not going back to the way things were” include everyone? Lisa Stafford says that the planning profession and society have learned little. Planners, perhaps unwittingly, are still favouring the idealistic view of the “able body”. So we need to discuss ableism and urban planning.
In her article, Lisa Stafford explains how ableism is inherent in urban and regional planning. Planning is not neutral – it’s not value-free. Planners make decisions on what and who to plan for.
“Time and again I have heard universal design omitted in the provision of social infrastructure…” Stafford writes. “Budget shortfalls”, and it’s “too hard” (read too costly) are their excuses.
Talking about ableism
Where to start? Where you are now. Share and discuss readings with colleagues – look up “ableism” in Google. Low hanging fruit is checking your own ableism by asking “for whom are we planning?” Ableism intersects with other identities and experiences. Planners must think more deeply about the connection between planning, design and society.
Stafford advises we look to the work of the American Planning Association and their universal design approach. They promote intergenerational neighbourhoods and smart growth. Norway’s leadership in universal design is also a good reference.
The chapter concludes with a short discussion on transport and active transport.
Other articles cover bathrooms, physical access, disability and climate justice and an artist view of disability justice and planning.
There are several posts on the work of the Norwegian Government on this website that link to Stafford’s references.