Ableism is discrimination against people with visible and invisible disabilities. While you can imagine that getting through the day is already a challenge, many people can become hindered further when they experience hateful and judgemental behaviours against them.
Ableism in Canada
I live in Canada, and people view it as being a friendly and compassionate country. We have our fair share though of uninformed and mean spirited citizens.
However, our bus drivers show consideration, closing the front doors and assisting a person in a wheelchair first before anyone else can get on the bus. Growing up, our teachers made sure that kids with disabilities fit in with the rest of the students. We have designated parking spots for disabled and pregnant persons.
Many Canadians don’t accept prejudice and intolerance, so when a person makes a hurtful comment based on their ableism beliefs, it is shocking to the targeted person and bystanders.
Stereotypes Hurt People With Disabilities
Some citizens use stereotypes to personify others based on colour, gender, and social status. Stereotypical attitudes also exist when people show prejudice against people with disabilities. Common prejudices against disabled people include:
- Thinking a disabled person is unintelligent.
- Believing they are lazy and don’t want to work.
- People treat them as being repulsive.
- Some people fear disabled people act violently.
It isn’t only random and uninformed people who treat disabled persons as being less than. Social, political, educational, and legal institutions can place barriers for people living with a disability. Limited access to society because of prejudice can lead to:
- A lack of educational opportunities.
- Barriers to economic prosperity.
- Poor medical care.
- Disabled persons being socially excluded and isolated
We all need to have a sense of being part of a healthy community that celebrates our joys and personal victories. Having friends and a strong belief in the right to be who you are without shame and embarrassment is part of the beauty of living in a vibrant and diverse country.
We Must Be Careful With Our Words
When we speak, we must avoid using words that offend, even if they have become popular. Many people don’t realize that using terms that apply to a disabled group of people as a joke isn’t funny or tolerable.
You may wonder what life is like for people living with a disability. Read what people have to say and learn more about the challenges, needs, expectations, and how it feels to suffer from inequality.
Do you have a story you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you about what it is like for you to live with a disability.