Ableism and Disability<br />Ableism: Discrimination in favor of the able-bodied.<br />Disability:a physical or mental handicap, esp. one that prevents a person from living a full, normal life or from holding a gainful job. <br />-Dictionary.com<br />
Consequences of Having a Disability in the United States<br />Johnson says, “Accepting the human condition is especially difficult for nondisabled people in the United States where the ideal of being autonomous and independent, needing no one’s help to get along is strongly rooted in the culture.”<br />Allan G. Johnson<br />
So what does this mean?<br />Disability is a very individual thing because everyone reacts differently to stress on their mind or body.<br />Like with many forms of discrimination, it is useless to lump people together because everyone experiences things differently.<br />
Visible and Non-visible Disabilities<br />A lot of the time people with a disability one can see are subject to discrimination from the get-go. <br />People with disabilities others can not see from the are generally forced to explain themselves to people.<br />
Advantages to a having a disability people don’t see.<br />Sometimes people who are disabled can pass as being able-bodied and receive the same rights and privileges without being questioned.<br />
Disadvantages <br />People with disabilities no one can see are subject to explaining themselves in certain situations.<br />They face being seen as lazy and/or a liar, using the “excuse” of having a disability for one’s own personal gain.<br />Mental disabilities can foster social exclusion. For example, the girl or boy who does not talk at school is generally labeled weird or anti-social because an individual will look at them and think: “What the hell is his/her problem?” <br />
People with visible disabilities<br />They face being treated as weak, unable, useless (in certain situations)<br />They face social isolation, stares, they may hear some rude comments. <br />They face being discriminated against in the workplace, school, exclusion from clubs, and seen as a liability.<br />They face being seen as less than human.<br />
Advantages?<br />I cannot think of any advantages…people might think having a hanging placard for their car is an advantage. It’s not.<br />The sad fact is that when people say they wish they had a placard it is clearly coming from a selfish place. People who could actually use one, for medical purposes saying that is a different situation entirely.<br />A lot of the time people who require an accommodation such as a placard, wheel chair, ramp, elevator, etc. went through hell to require that they have one. It was not by choice. <br />So, there are really no advantages to having a visible disability, especially because for most people sight is the first impression. Most of us already have our minds made up before we even say “Hello” <br />
My Experience<br /> I have a handicapped parking space placard. I was explaining to one of my friends one day why I had the placard, because he asked. Now keep in mind this guy is a white, heterosexual, non-disabled man in the upper-middle class. He does not even know what social justice is never mind privilege, which I find funny because he is a shining example of ignorance sometimes. He looked at me and told me I was “really milking it” which meant that I was taking advantage of the state or the DMV or something. I called him a jerk. He said, “well, doesn’t it make you feel better that I forgot you had a disability?” meaning: you look okay to me. The conversation ended there because the person I was talking to knew about my disability, which is ataxia, it mainly affects my walking but it is throughout my body and he knows that. Because I do not look disabled I am not in his eyes, which is severely narrow-minded. The last thing I want to be is disabled, but we get what we get. How we handle it is up to us. I think I handle having ataxia really well, its not fun and can be quite embarrassing/hard to explain so I choose not to bother sometimes. It just made me feel really defensive because I happen to know how my body feels when I walk. He does not. Also, it was clear to me by the tone of his voice, gesture, and smirk that he asked me just to make fun of me. Joking around or not, I did not find it amusing. <br />
Some Privileges for Able-bodied Individuals<br />Able to get a job without their physical ability playing a major role.<br />Able to walk around and not be stared at because there is something “wrong” or “off” about them.<br />Able to participate in almost all recreational sports and activities without worrying about the stability of their mind or body. <br />Able to use most tools, utensils, and gadgets without an aide or substitute.<br />Able to maintain their own possessions, money, hygiene (without an aide to assist in showering, hair combing) etc.<br />All of the above mentioned are matters that can severely affect one’s social life, family life, work life, and financial situation, also, most of the above mentioned are largely taken for granted. <br />
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