Disablism and Attitudes Toward those with Disabilities

According to wikipedia, disablism is defined as follows: discriminatory, oppressive, or abusive behaviour arising from the belief that disabled people are inferior to others.I'll be honest. Until recently, I had never even heard the term. Now, this might seem to be an odd disconnect since I, myself, blog about disability issues. However, blogging about disability benefits tends to be a fairly narrow and restricted area of conversation. In other words, you may not see the forest for the trees.

Fortunately, for the interested yet uninformed, there exists a world of blogs authored by writers who have a vested (and sometimes very personal) interest in their subject matter. One such blog is "The Perorations of Lady Bracknell".I'm not quite sure just who Lady Bracknell is, but I found myself intrigued by her post on disablism. As she considers the issue, the definition for disablism used by wikipedia is overly strong.

Instead, it is her opinion that most discriminatory behavior that is directed towards the disabled (and this itself is a point of contention among who would prefer to use the phrase "those with disabilities", but Lady Bracknell used the word disabled and so I'll use it as well in this article) occurs on a subconscious level.I would have to agree. In nearly every society, you will find a small percentage of the population that is capable of unsavory and malicious behavior.

But, by and large, most individuals are a bit more enlightened. However, as Bracknell states, even among non-disabled individuals, better attitudes can be manifested in ways that are less than helpful and sometimes even obstacle-forming.Chiefly, this takes the form of assumptions regarding what individuals with disabilities can or cannot do with regard to the performance of ordinary and routine daily activities. Bracknell calls this "benevolent discrimination".Benevolent discrimination (by family members, friends, co-workers, and managers) may be innocent in nature and intent since it is driven by subconscious motivations; however, the effect can be such that opportunities for advancement can become more limited for individuals with disabilities. And the road to advancement may, effectively, devolve into a lane that travels nowhere.

How do you combat discriminatory behavior of the benevolent kind? Well, as this type of behavior is the "handiwork" of those who mean well enough, most likely the best defense is a good.channel of communication. And for this purpose, each disability blog has been quite excellent in providing a forum for individuals to exchange information and express viewpoints.

As one blogger who was part of "Blogging against disablism Day" put it: "Crips of the world unite.we have nothing to lose but other people's misperceptions".


The author of this article is Tim Moore, who also publishes an FAQ on Disability benefits.

By: Timothy Moore


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