Sunday, June 13, 2010

regarding Ableism

ableism |ˈābəˌlizəm| (also ablism)
discrimination in favor of able-bodied people.

It's assuming that because I am fully able bodied, can see and hear and everything else without needing aid, that every one else can do the same. Which of course is patently false.

A week or two ago I had an interesting conversation about Ableism with a customer.

Said customer is on a disability pension, but because he is not obviously disabled, it is assumed by many people that he is not. But mainly the conversation turned out to be about ableism in our community.

This is only something that occurred to me recently; when I was fourteen, I ripped ligaments in my ankle and had to use crutches for six weeks. Because my school was full of stairs and had no lifts whatsoever (not even in the new building), I had to leave my last class early, along with a friend, so that I could make it up and down the stairs and across campus to the bus stop in order to get home (without tripping over the hundreds of other students rushing to get home). I've only just realised recently that this is why we never had students in wheelchairs, or permanently on crutches at our school. They would never have been able to get anywhere. And a disturbing amount of schools in Perth (and probably Australia-wide) are built in the same fashion, multi-storey, lots of stairs.

At work, we have a single sloped step, people with prams or in wheelchairs can easily get up it and into the shop, the ailes are wide and probably half the stock is accessible from a height of 1 metre or so. (our shop isn't kind to short people, I have to get the steps if I want to access stock on the top shelves)

Next door is another computer shop, they have three steps to get in. In fact the other computer shop down the street also has steps. I'm kind of wondering how many customers they lose because of their locations?

How often do we hear people complaining about how all the "good" parking spots are reserved for people with ACROD stickers or parents with prams? Never mind the accessibility nightmare people must face every time they go to a new location to shop or visit.

This has been somewhat of a stream of consciousness thing. It's something I've been thinking about for a while, and probably not worded as well as I might have hoped just after I had this conversation with this customer (it was a very long conversation).

This doesn't even begin to scratch the surface with regards to Ableism, but I am glad that I said it and hope that it mostly makes sense.

Please find below some links I have found regarding Ableism.

At Bad Cripple: Ableism and Water Shed Experience

At Disabled Feminists Evelyn-Evelyn Ableism-Ableism

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