Overcoming ableism takes more than attending a disability awareness workshop. It’s also more than checking out the right words to use when talking about disability. If things are to change for people with disability, we have to challenge values and assumptions.
Andrew Pulrang writes that the stereotype of people with disability is one of fragility and weakness. Disability is associated with illness. Disability services are ‘care’ services, not just services for practical assistance. Workplaces assume people with disability can’t handle the pressures of work.
Consequently, we have the opposite stereotype appearing as tough and resilient. But putting people with disability on a pedestal doesn’t help with inclusion and integration. Hardship is not inevitable, so there is no need to be admired in any way.
Pulrang’s article in Forbes magazine also discusses the issues of intelligence and sanity and how they have changed over time. He asks what are they exactly, and how do we measure them.
He concludes his article with, “The roots of ableism run deep. Sometimes to get at them we have to dig deeper, and disrupt not just our habits, but some of our most basic ways of thinking.”
The title of Pulrang’s article is, Fighting Ableism Requires Us To Challenge Some Of Our Most Cherished Values.