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Ableism Is a Discriminatory Practice Against Persons with Disabilities

Ableism Is a Discriminatory Practice Against Persons with Disabilities – Ableism Is a Discriminatory Practice Against Persons with Disabilities. Ableism refers to prejudice and discrimination against persons with disabilities. This idea is rooted in the deviation of thinking that people with disabilities are inferior to other people. This assumption creates harmful and unfair stereotypes for persons with disabilities.

Discriminatory practices in cases of ableism can occur intentionally or unintentionally. On the other hand, there is a prevailing belief in society (although not in writing) that there is a right way for the body and mind to function. Anyone who feels “different” is considered inferior. Worryingly again, ableism can appear in a variety of ways, from the personal to the institutional realm.

1. A brief history of ableism

The term ableism was propagated in the 1980s by feminists in the United States. However, the word was first written down as used in a press release by the UK local authority, Haringey London Borough Council in 1986.

Talking about the history of ableism, this discriminatory practice seems to have been found since the Middle Ages. At that time, people with disabilities were considered possessed by demons or evil spirits. As a result, they are not given proper life care.

Ableism has a correlation with the Eugenics movement which was echoed around the 1800s. Eugenics is a racist concept that encourages population control through certain mechanisms such as forced sterilization and marriage checks. It can also be interpreted as a social philosophy that focuses on improving the health of the human race by eliminating those who are sick and/or disabled.

2. Ableism type

Ableism can manifest in a variety of ways at several levels, such as:

  • Institutional level: Impact on specific institutions, such as medical capabilities rooted in the idea that disability is a problem that needs to be fixed. When it becomes part of medical teaching and policy, it affects the entire healthcare system.
  • Inerpersonal level: Occurs in social interactions and relationships. For example, parents of a child with a disability may try to “cure” the disability rather than accept the child’s condition
  • Internal level: Occurs when a person, knowingly or unknowingly, believes harmful rumors about disabilities and applies them to himself.

Meanwhile, a study in the 2019 Journal of Social Issues categorizes ableism in several forms, such as:

  • Hostile ableism: Including openly aggressive behavior, such as intimidation, harassment, and violence against persons with disabilities.
  • Benevolent ableism: Viewing persons with disabilities as weak and in need of assistance.
  • Ambivalent ableism: A combination of advising and hostile practices. For example, a person might start a social interaction in a patronizing way, then turn hostile if the person objects to their behavior.

3. The practice of ableism in everyday life

Ableism does not always lead to discriminatory practices for persons with disabilities. The reason is, this can also happen in subtle ways. Some actions classified as ableism consist of:

  • Direct discrimination: Based on the exclusion of a disabled person. For example refusing to employ individuals with disabilities, asking questions that pertain to their conditions, and not providing accessible services and spaces for persons with disabilities.
  • Microaggressions: The practice may be more subtle, but it is still related to ableism. An example is considering persons with disabilities as individuals who are incapable, helpless, and abnormal individuals.

It is important to understand that most people with disabilities do not make other people help them to get up. Instead, they need the role of other people to ensure that they are considered as a whole human being.

4. The impact of ableism

The act of ableism is very detrimental to persons with disabilities. Not infrequently, prejudice and discrimination that are considered “ordinary” in society can affect psychological conditions. Other areas of life that have also been affected are:

  • Academic problems, especially if there is no modification in learning activities.
  • Livelihood issues, such as difficulty getting a decent job and being given lower wages.
  • Increasing the risk of harassment, violence and intimidation in social life.

5. How to avoid the practice of ableism

It is unethical to feel sorry for or look down on someone just because their abilities are different from others. After all, no one wants to be born with this condition.

Instead of worrying about someone’s disability, why not appreciate their potential? Apart from that, we can also implement inclusive practices and present spaces that are disability-friendly.

Some simple steps to avoid practicing ableism are to:

  • Studying conditions related to disabilities so that our minds can be more open to differences.
  • Be a good listener when people with disabilities share their experiences.
  • Don’t hesitate to challenge myths that are not true in society.

As civilized human beings, we should respect each other’s differences. It is not wise to practice discrimination, especially because of one’s condition.

However, persons with disabilities still have the same rights in social life. In fact, this is clearly stated in the constitutional law of the Indonesian state.

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