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If you’re wheelchair bound or know someone who is wheelchair bound, then you’ve most likely heard the term “ableism” thrown around, but what exactly is it?

Ableism is a form of discrimination, whether accidental or deliberate, against those with various disabilities. Unfortunately, there’s nothing new about discrimination. We still live in an age where racism, ageism, and sexism still run rampant. With so many forms of discrimination, it’s no surprise that ableism isn’t talked about as much as the others and isn’t as well-known.

Let’s take a look at the 3 things you should know about ableism.

It Encompasses A Large Disability Spectrum

Whether someone is wheelchair bound or suffers from a psychiatric disability, the term itself is broad enough to encompass a large range of various mental and physical conditions. 1 in 5 North Americans suffer from one form of disability or another. Some physical disabilities are more obvious such as a wheelchair user. However, others who suffer from an internal disability such as a mental illness may not be as obvious to the outside and are often not given the same assistance as those with physical disabilities.

Ableism Is Overlooked

As mentioned before, ableism isn’t talked about as much as the other discriminatory “-isms” because society has done a pretty effective job of pushing disability awareness to the side. There are little to no “disability rights” marches or protests on the streets. Disability isn’t normalized on television shows. Even if a television show has a disabled character, they’re normally a side character whose story revolves around their disability. What’s worse is, often times, those characters aren’t even played by actors who have that disability.

What Can We Do About It?

There are a couple of things you can try to curb discriminatory behavior against the disabled population. The first thing to try is push for more handicap access in public areas such as wheelchair ramps and bathrooms. The second is to normalize behavior around disabled people. Just because you see a disabled person doesn’t mean they need to be treated any less. If they need help, they will indicate their need for assistance. We need to create a world where we treat those with disabilities as equals and ensure they always have access to a seat at the table.

© 2021 Merrymen.

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