Saturday, January 31, 2015

Financial problem confronted by people with disabilities and analysis about wheel chair design.

Thanks to the long-term efforts of many volunteering people, the people with disabilities in USA had acquired equal privileges in many areas. The emergence of ADA project makes their life more convenient and comfortable. However there still are a lot of problems waiting to be changed. Through learning the history of disabilities, we can be aware of some troubles that are really needed to be paid attention by public.

Longmore helps me to know that how many problems the people with disabilities are going to face and how important to learn history of people with disabilities.

Many people with disabilities suffered the inconvenience and pain because of poverty.  Due to the reasons like physical and “ invisible discrimination”, finding a job is somehow not easy for people with disabilities. Some people with disabilities can’t finish their education because of their physical condition and their financial problem, after that they can only have a little experience of professional knowledge, which also increased the difficulty of finding a job. This is a vicious loop. Most jobs which don’t require the professional knowledge and technology are always trivial and exhausting, like physical labors. Even the companies which don’t have the issues like “ invisible discrimination”, but those kinds of works is not suitable for people with disabilities, they cannot afford it. 

If they cannot acquire enough financial support, at the same time if they don’t have other family members to take care and support them, their life would become much more difficult.

Another serious trouble is medical problem. The policy in USA may give people with disabilities some financial support when they need, but in China, pension of only a limited amount per person will be given by the government, it couldn't cover much of their living cost. If they don’t have any income, they have to face a big challenge from their financial problem. At same time people with disabilities should have a equal chance to receive the education, they need to know the history of disabilities and maintain their rights better.

Therefore, the poverty and education of people with disabilities is a serious social problem. Companies should be able to provide some work positions which are suitable for people with disabilities, for example, civil servants and hand-crafters. So people with disabilities can have a fixed income. 

The people with disabilities have right to continue education, gain knowledge. So the community likes university should create a good environment for people with disabilities, convenient school bus, accessible building, class rooms which are filled with suitable facilities( tables for wheelchairs, easy use technology tools, etc.) and special services( sign language, volunteers, Braille reading, etc.) Reasonable price of tuition to encourage them going to university.

Learning history of people with disabilities when these people are at their childhood can help them to better understand how to improve people with disabilities’ life and knowing their responsibility. Children learning disabilities’ history can let them know the way to use the words without ableism, they will know how many difficulties and problems that people with disabilities are facing, and how hard and struggling they have tried to solve the problems and win the rights. Learning the history of disabilities can help people to understand each other much better, it is pretty meaningful for have a accessible society for the people with disabilities.

For people with disabilities who are relying on a wheelchair to move around, wheelchairs play a very important role in their daily life, from a designer’s perspective the wheelchairs is not only a tool to support their bodies, but also to support their spirit. Therefore, the wheelchair’s design also need to consider the user's emotional needs, so designers try their best to provide a better user experience by wheelchair product.

”Willchair”electric wheelchair provides a "driving mode", "auxiliary standing mode", "assisted toilet mode" three different functions mode, designers are hoping to help people with disabilities to solve walking, standing, toileting three problems so that they can independently accomplish more things, to building the confidence in their life, but designers also hope the products like this can attract more people to pat attention on how to make the people with disabilities’ life more efficient and comfortable without an ableism.
( The pictures are downloaded from internet.)

Riddle Us This

So here’s a really disturbing riddle: 

What do New York City’s public schools, Alexander Graham Bell, Planned Parenthood, Auschwitz, and Geraldo Rivera have in common?

They all grappled with eugenics.  
  • The city’s public schools were founded to protect the culture of native born elites;
  • Bell promoted oralism to make sure the deaf didn’t develop their own culture*;
  • Margaret Sanger believed some people were fit to reproduce and some were not;
  • The Nazis’ final solution was partly modeled on California’s eugenics laws*;
  • Before he went over the edge, Geraldo Rivera did a powerful investigative report on the Willowbrook State School where intellectually disabled children were warehoused and experimented on.
If history is viewed as a series of isolated events, then it’s easy to pass off discrimination as personal  discomfort or ignorance.  Even on a larger scale, the case can be made that customs or laws are just misguided or stem from ignorance.  But when the dots get connected, when we see there’s a straight line from Auschwitz to Willowbrook, that many school systems, including Syracuse, still function according to segregationist principles, it’s much harder to make that case.

It’s important to understand disability history for many reasons, and that understanding is key to dismantling ableism.  For my purposes, from a policy perspective, it’s crucial to understand this history because it is a refutation of the medical model, that disability is a pathological condition situated within an individual, and its logical flip side, that discrimination against people with disabilities is also an individual act, based on ignorance or fear. What becomes clear is that ableism has served a purpose.  It has in many ways been an intentionally employed tool of control.  It has been encouraged and rationalized and legalized and institutionalized in order to oppress. 

Eugenics, which was (and continues to be?) very influential in the United States, takes the medical model of disability to its extreme conclusion:  Not only is disability situated in the individual, limited ability is inherent in the race, ethnicity, physical condition, and social behavior of the individual.  In order to protect itself from “all the ‘defective’ classes,”* society oppresses those it deems less than, through minimal opportunity, segregation, sterilization, and possibly murder.*

Longmore helps us see how the dots - individual people and events - connect to the larger context so that we can understand that ableism isn’t personal, it’s systemic.  Understanding this history, seeing the patterns of oppression, the connections between different persecuted groups - based on an assumption of limited ability - helps us frame the response to ableism.  If we really understand how it was constructed, we can figure out how to break it down.

* I’m not sure how to cite information because there aren’t real page numbers on my kindle edition.  All starred information is from Longmore, chapters 2, 3, and 4.  I’d appreciate suggestions on how to cite properly.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Interesting piece on NPR

This is about disability advocates and the new governor of Texas.  They talk a lot about the ADA.

I couldn't find a transcript, and posted a comment about it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


The question posed to me is a simple one -What is ableism?  This post is an attempt to answer this .

I want to start with what it isn't .  It is NOT about the prejudice notions of ability that impact people with disabilities. It is NOT solely about the discrimination that happens to people with various disabilities.   What it IS a system of beliefs and values that assert a cultural norm that regards able bodied as ideal and disabled bodies as inferior. It further asserts a hierarchy within disability , with those individuals who have a profound cognitive disabilities at the very bottom .

You see prejudices are informed by values and beliefs.  Discrimination is the active perpetuation of these beliefs. The values and beliefs you hold around one's inability to do something is informed by very basic ideas of what it means to have value . To be worthy of being called human . Our discussion of intelligence , around genius , around fitness all reinforce the fact that there is an ideal human being . We should all desire to be better , stronger , faster , fitter, smarter. Right ?  What is wrong with this, need you may ask?  Seemingly nothing , when you look at it through an individual goal of being the best you can be . Right?  But what if your best is average or for goodness sake , being the slowest ? How do we feel about that ?  Is that ok ?  Why ?  Why not?  Would you rather die or lose a limb?  What if you lost your current level intelligence ( as we currently measure it ) ?

No matter how you answer those questions , think about what informs it.  This is where you get to the heart of ableism.  Because those thoughts in the recesses of your mind will impact policy, school choices , community activity , etc.  So all though those questions are about you , it will ultimately impact someone else.  Thus creating a system.

This of course is complicated by race , class , gender , sexuality . But then again not really .  At the core of white supremacy is a discussion of ability and often the response of the marginalized race or ethnicity  is to prove their fitness .  The question of why we center those conversations intelligence , body fitness , etc are rarely challenged, but remain at the crux of the discussion.

I could go on . But I will leave you with this.  When my son was born , it wasnt the long list of all his possible defects that made me sad, although I did have to actively work against the idea the idea that my son needed to be fixed . But when I cried that night , and a few nights since , it was because I was raising a young black disabled son in a world that did not value who he is .  That that extra chromosome placed him further in the margins .and it was not he who needed fixing , but it was society's view of him that needed to be mended . What complicated it further was juxtaposing that against the knowledge that he would need help with things and being clearly that assistance does not make him less of a person .  But that was and continue to be active work , because he was born to an able bodied mama , who has also received this messages and needed to unlearn many of them .

It is at this moment , it is such a critical time to create a space to unlearn the messages we have received .  This is the only way we can disrupt the system .

So , now I will really stop .  Thoughts ????

Disclaimer :  I did not find my invitation link until today . I did post timely on my personal blogspot : 

I apologize . 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Kate on Ableism


Ableism is a difficult concept to be concise about. I think that if one were to try and define it, a long document or a manual with several clauses would be best, perhaps in the format of the DSM-V, or maybe a law or an act like the ADA. I think several chapters would be necessary, because there are many types of it, just as there are many types of disability.

Ableism is a discriminatory viewpoint that takes on many forms, and is directed at each type of disability in unique ways, and when disabilities overlap, Ableism also overlaps.
Ableism is the belief that a disabled person is somehow lesser than others, need not be considered at all, or is to be felt sorry for and made to fit into dominant systems of hierarchy as much as possible.

The dominant person, considered medically and socially “normal” in American society, is upheld as the model in this system. This is a person whose body and mind/brain does not have what are considered impairments in medical and social models of health and ability. Examples of “impairment” are things such as cerebral palsy, schizophrenia, deafness, blindness, autism, or levels of intelligence that are considered less than the average.

A person who is considered healthy and able bodied is one who fits a certain ideal of weight and physical/mental ability. The definition of health and ability has been, over the centuries, put into place by those who have been best able to participate and benefit from defining ability this way.

A person who is able-bodied can participate in the built world, the educational systems, the medical systems, the family and social systems, and in the dominant perception of “reality” and benefit from those systems. A disabled person struggles in each of these systems in different ways.

The best way for me to try to understand and define Ableism is to speak from my experience as a deaf, mentally ill and occasionally mobility-impaired person. For this, however, I will focus on my hearing “loss”.

When teachers and audiologists discovered that my hearing was at levels much lower than most other children’s, it was quickly decided that this was a problem to be corrected. The idea that deafness could be beneficial to me was never considered. There was a mad rush to get me fitted with hearing aids as quickly as possible, to reassure me that I was “normal”, to encourage me to hide my hearing aids under my hair and to get me started in speech therapy. I remember my parents being very frightened during this time. I was 5 years old. Although I didn’t feel any different, suddenly I was being defined as “impaired”. I had a hearing “loss”, a speech “impediment”, I needed to see a “pathologist”, and much of my childhood was spent going to audiologists and looking at plastic models of the perfect and healthy human ear, which I did not possess, and undergoing painful hearing tests every six months. Although I had a strong self-image as a young child, I was constantly, constantly reminded that I was impaired and that was a bad thing until I finally began to internalize it.

The adults in my life, the teachers, doctors and so on, never thought I should learn sign language, because doing so would be, in their opinion, nothing but a huge hindrance to me. Being deaf was a terrible thing, and I needed to be as far away as possible from deaf culture and sign language. Instead, I was made to take speech pathology for years, I was expected to listen very hard and use my hearing aids to hear other people. This was utterly exhausting, but I didn’t know there was any other option or type of life available.

When I was 14, my high school offered a sign language class taught by a deaf teacher. Of course I signed up for it. The teacher, when she learned I was hearing impaired, gave me a huge hug, and with that I was welcomed into deaf culture. I will always remember this. I never had considered myself deaf before. I remember the incredible relief I felt when I was able to finally communicate without straining. It was so liberating, and I learned ASL immediately. It came so naturally to me. I was just shocked and hurt that this whole time there had been a language that I could use without straining and struggling and feeling embarrassed.

The fact that I was not taught ASL is ableism. That I was not introduced to other deaf children or deaf culture was ableism. That I was told over and over again that I was impaired is ableism. When deaf children are forced to speak and try to hear and not taught sign language, they fall behind in school. This is ableism. The amount of deaf children and deaf people that I met growing up was almost none. My whole time in undergrad at Hunter College, I never encountered anyone who used sign language. I have never met another deaf person in any of my places of employment. You would think that deaf people do not exist at all. We exist. We are kept from participating in things like public schools, colleges and employment because of ableism. Deaf people are not inherently stupid, yet on average, we do not progress beyond the fourth grade. I was lucky because I had enough “usable hearing” to be able to talk and hear more than other deaf people. This means I can hear certain sounds that are used in spoken English language. I was also lucky for many other reasons and was able to make it to college. The amount of struggle it has taken to just be in a master’s program is unbelievable and I am amazed to even be here. Of course, I am often reminded that I am older than others and could have gotten a master’s ages ago. This is ableism. Able-bodied people are never going to understand the struggle that disabled people face without listening to them. The able bodied need to stop trying to define people like myself. I don’t need those definitions. I don’t need to be told what I can and can’t do by able-bodied people.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Definition of Ableism

Ableism is the cultural, unconscious valuation of ability.  It manifests as discrimination against those whose abilities are less than the normative ability of the "able-bodied" and those of "able-mind." Those who are considered less able or "disabled" are marginalized and othered.  They become the minimum standard by which the "able" demonstrate their ability and reinforce the culturally dominant definition of normal and ability.  Like any other relation of power between races, sexes, and those from different socio-economic statuses - ableism perpetuates "ability" as good, status-quo, and valued by devaluing its invisible, voiceless opposite - disability.

I think Xiaoyu's comment under the second image on her post about "invisible discrimination" is illustrative.  African-Americans have been discriminated against and criticized for having inferior intelligence.  Women have been discriminated against and criticized because of their frail minds and bodies.  Both modes of prejudice highlight the "invisible discrimination" that people with disabilities face without ever mentioning disability.  This is the direct product of ableism.

What ableism means to me

to me ableism is a socially constructed idea that there is a certain level of desirable ability possessed by every worthy member of contemporary society. These relative abilities can be manifested in a plethora of different ways whether they be physical, cognitive, emotional, social, or psychological. Those people who fall out of the "normal" range are often considered to  exist on the fringes of society, and generally not "fit" enough to make valuable contributions to, or control the world around them. This socially constructed idea is held in place by a system of ignorance, discrimination, oppression, and  pity towards  people  who demonstrate traits of being "unfit" when compared with society's standards of what is considered "normal".  These traits are therefore known collectively as disabilities which directly  implies they are somehow less than able.

 as a system, ableism is so ingrained into the human condition that most people who are not experienced with, or otherwise oriented to notice it in action are unaware of its pervasive existence in society. As the old saying goes "ignorance is bliss". In this sense I do not mean that most people are even aware of when they are demonstrating ablest tendencies, the word for  willful ignorance is  an ignoramus  in the english language. There are many words in our language that people use in their everyday lives without thinking about its effect on others. This  does not mean that everyone who use those words  intend to offend those who take offense. The same can be said for people whose actions or decisions  offend or negatively affect those  who are harmed by such demonstrations. It is of my own  humble opinion that most reasonable people who are made aware of how they affect those around them tend to at least attempt to amend their behavior. After all, the only effective way to change people's mindsets is through education and example.

The real problem then is those who know better, and willfully disregard how their language and actions affect people disabilities and their allies around them. Unfortunately, because   freedom of speech is held in such high regard in this country, this problem will never completely disappear until it becomes taboo in our society. However, is my belief that through the enforcement of anti discrimination laws along with the increased inclusion of people with disabilities within everyone's daily lives can change people's mindsets, if not at least their public actions.

Models for those people with disability

    Everyone knows that those people with disability always feel there are lots of inconvenient things happened in their normal life. We try to help them in lots of ways, but I think a people without disability will never understand how hard or inconvenient of those people with disability's life will be. It is so amazing that I found that a group in Germany, they know those people with disability fell so hard to buy the fitting clothes. Those clothes in the shopping mall are worm by the normal models. For those people just like the picture above or Siamese twins, they have to custom made their own clothes. The most important thing is they will fill afraid to shopping, because they feel uncomfortable when other people are looking at them, even those people does not discriminate against him.

    That is the reason I feel so surprised that these people can think so much for those people with disability. They try to destroy the normal models and modify the shape and posture, to make those models looks very close to these people with disability. It takes a really long time to measure all the data form these people, because we know we cannot use the same measurement standards as usually. Therefor that group of people spend lots time to measure and build these models and try to make them perfectly.

    After they build these models and show to these people with disability, they also sent these models to the big public shopping mall and exhibit there. When I saw those "special" model are stood with other models that we usually saw in the glass showcase, I have a strong feeling that those people with disability are complete the same as others around us. We cannot discriminate against them and we have no rights to discriminate against them. Because we are all human, we are the same. Discriminating against those people with disability is the same as discriminate against one's himself. I can understand why this group try to work so hard to show others their ideas and principles. I also think that we need to accept this idea and we can help each other.

Whispers of Ableism

My definition of ableism: the mindset or assumption that everyone that has something that society categorizes as a disability is in fact (fatally?) disabled by that something. 

There are a few things that we talked about in class that struck me, probably because in crafting my personal definition of ableism, I thought of these things. First, I specifically chose "mindset" and "assumption" over ignorance. I know that was brought up, but I am a big believer in the three things you can know: things you know you know, things you know you don't know, and things you don't know you don't know. I feel like the term ignorance has a very negative connotation, thus implying that you know you don't know something and actively choose to not educate yourself. When discussing disability rights and ableism, I feel that ignorance is the wrong term because most people don't even know that they don't know what's going on. In all honesty, unless someone is actually faced with a "disabling" position on a regular basis, chances are they have no clue what (isn't) going on.  On the flip side, there are those that actively do choose to ignore and not educate themselves on this topic, and those people I believe one can term as ignorant.

I also felt it was important to describe disability as a social construct. We didn't really touch on that topic in class, but I am sure it will come up heavily in the future, so I'll sit back on those thoughts until we come across it more directly.

The third thing that got to me while thinking about this definition is that having ableist thoughts (I admit readily that I know I have them from time to time) automatically makes the disability a fatal(?) thing. I'm really not sure that fatal is the word I'm looking for, but it's about the right strength for such a description. Obviously, being physically, mentally, or emotionally "disabled" in some way does not kill you, as fatal would imply, but is allows the ableist person to believe that that person does not matter or is dead to the issue. I really hate to think that this process occurs within my own mindset, but I know it does - and I also know it's from years and years of conditioning to not care. Society, family and friends, and media do this with many, many topics, but the active disclusion of disabling conditions and fearmongering definitely is something that must be actively battled. Just as battling the mindset that we are not doing damage to the earth and that global warming does not exist - is there an -ism for that? Geoism perhaps?

But the battle for conservation is a public battle.. it is taken up in boardrooms, at public rallies and protests - with heavy media presence, and at political scenes including within platforms for elections. But ableist thinking, reasoning, and actions are not battled publicly. There are definitely battles going on, but in the background, and I think our discussion of how the ADA was passed is a perfect example: things are being done to advance an anti-ableist society, but it is being done in hushed whispers, which allows ableism to continue because it's still something that we shouldn't talk about. Talking only in whispers actually condones ableism because we're saying that although it might not be politically correct to act in certain ways (maybe), it is okay to think that way. And that thought process condones and expands ableism. Until we can disrupt that cycle, ableism will continue and we will continue to fight battle after battle, putting band-aids on an ever-expanding virus.

Ableism and Team Hoyt

Ableism is an idea that can be reflected in words or actions.  In my opinion, ableism is using a socially constructed idea around “ability” to deploy prejudice, devalue people with disabilities, or pity those who have a disability.  While people may not intentionally use ableist language or take ableist actions, they often use such language and exhibit such actions unintentionally.  I believe that one aspect of ableism includes the idea that able-bodiedness is the “norm.”  As a result, disability is always viewed as “bad.”  People or societies who use aspect of ableism often think that disability is something that must be overcome or that people with a disability should try to rid themselves of the disability and become “normal.”  Acknowledging a person’s disability, embracing disability, and working with a person’s disability don’t fit in with some ableist conceptions.  In considering the definition of ableism, I recalled our class discussion on “Team Hoyt.” 
I visited the Team Hoyt website at and found that much of the language on the “About Team Hoyt” section of the website revolves heavily on Dick and Judy, who are the parents, rather than around Rick, who is the son with a disability.  The “About Team Hoyt” section of the website discusses much of what Rick’s parents had done for him, fighting to get Rick into school, For example the website says, “[a]fter providing concrete evidence of Rick’s intellect and ability to learn like everyone else, Dick and Judy needed to find a way to help Rick communicate for himself.”  While parents do inevitably play a role in their child’s education and development, this sentence overlooks Rick’s role in his own development and downplays his ability to communicate in other ways.  Rick was previously using his eyes to communicate.  This supports the ableist idea mentioned earlier that there is a “norm” and those who deviate from the “norm” are overlooked.  The “norm” in this case is communication through spoken language, and because Rick communicated in a different way, his method of communication was overlooked, even by his own parents in creating the Team Hoyt website.
Below I have attached a picture of “Team Hoyt.”  While I do not think the picture itself necessarily represents ableist ideas, I do think that the way people respond to the picture represents ableist views.  People seeing the picture often make an assumption that Rick relies on his father to complete the races, without even thinking that Rick may choose to compete in races with his father because he favors that method or the time with his father.  Rick may be able to compete in the race in other ways, some of which may include completing the race on his own using advances in technology; however, there is an assumption that he could never complete the race on his own.  Some people look at this image and view Rick as a hero because Rick has “overcome” his disability.  If Rick is a hero for completing a marathon, then isn’t every other person who completed the race also a hero?  Rick is like every other person and has the ability to complete the race in whatever way he chooses.  In my opinion, Rick has not overcome his disability in this picture, but instead embraced his disability and worked with his disability as a part of himself.
I recognize that other people may not view these potential responses to the photo below as ableism.  What is viewed as ableism by one person may not be considered ableism by another person.  I find myself at times questioning if I am acting in an ableist manner, but I think the fact that I now question whether my actions are ableist, a term that I never heard a year and a half ago, demonstrates progress.  If I can make progress in my own life, I have faith that others can make progress and, ultimately, society as a whole can make progress toward developing a common conception of ableism and combating ableism.

Teaching Those Kids

“How am I supposed to teach those children?”

    The seasoned fifth grade public school teacher who asked me this question was reacting to the news that two of her students had IEP’s.  She did not yet know the students and, presumably, she had not yet read their IEPs, which would in fact tell her how to teach them.  What she did not ask me was whether her teaching methods would serve these children well, what she could do to make their learning experience more appropriate, or if she could be helped to improve her practice.  Her conviction was that students who could not learn the way she taught were deficient.  She further believed that they should be segregated from “normal” children, into a self-contained class, because they would clearly be unable to thrive and would consequently hold back the children “who really belonged” in her room.

This teacher, a former colleague of mine, was exhibiting ableism when she assumed that she knew the capacity of children based on labels, and felt no compunction about limiting their opportunities in what she believed was the best interest of her class.  This situation is a microcosm of the ableist world. The person or institution with power determines capacity and opportunity.  The challenge faced by the individual with a disability is understood to be caused by a defect in the individual rather than unnecessary obstacles in the environment.  The solution is to remove the individual from the environment rather than accommodating him or her by making the environment accessible.

Ableism is the misguided belief, supported by institutions and power structures, that an individual’s capacity can be predetermined based on the absence of certain abilities. 

The people who hold ableist views see people who are disabled as “other.” They maintain that there are norms - expectations of how people should develop and act and feel and look - and those who do not fall within these norms are individually, inherently limited. Frequently, ableists reduce an individual to the label they have been given because of the perceived disability. There is no effort to find strengths - other abilities - or to view the individual as multifaceted.  If you’re dyslexic, and you can’t read text, you can’t read.  It doesn’t matter that you may have a sophisticated understanding of text when you hear it, that you can critique a work, or that you can yourself write text beautifully if you have speech recognition software, a scribe, or maybe just spellcheck.  What matters is you can’t read.

The way we should respond to ableism will vary given the situation.  Sometimes we need to be strategic - I didn’t correct my colleague.  I offered to go over the IEPs with her and be supportive if I could.  I wanted to set up lines of communication and help in the effort to make our school more inclusive.  Sometimes we need to be disruptive or threatening, because comfortable people are not often motivated to make changes.  And sometimes we just react, because sometimes we just can’t help it.

The answer to my colleague’s question, which sadly she had no interest in hearing, would have been that she should just teach well. She should figure out the individual needs of her students and adjust the curriculum so they had access to it.  The “disabilities” she was so upset by, were probably the result of a mismatch between what the learner needed and how the teachers taught.  Ultimately the question is “Who gets to decide?”  Who decides what’s normal or appropriate?  Who decides what someone’s capacity or needs are?  Who decides what’s fair, or reasonable, or just?  Who decides who belongs?  Ableism stays with us as long as the people who make those decisions are not the people who suffer the consequences of them.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

how the visual material reflects ableism.

Braille tile is used in public areas for a safe walk for the visual impairment. It is designed and deployed to enhance the outdoor activity experience of visual impairment, however the braille tile in the picture was truly a “hurdle and barrier” for people with disabilities. Such barriers not only lose its function of this facility, more seriously, but also lead people with disabilities towards hurting themselves. It shows little respect on people with disabilities, and people with disabilities who are used to rely on those facilities in the community may lose confidence about walking outside. It might make their daily life more difficult and inaccessible.

In the contemporary society, it becomes rare that the companies discriminate people according to their race, gender and language. However, the problem that finding a job may be difficult for people with disabilities remains unsolved. Although not that serious as before, this kind of situation may have become "invisible discrimination”. Even if they have the same set of skills, some companies won’t choose those people with disabilities in the most of time. This is unfair for the job seeking of people with disabilities, but there will be the many reasons presented while rejecting to give you the job offer  which has nothing to do with your physical condition to make their decision more “legal”.

Friday, January 23, 2015


I understand ableism as a system that oppresses individuals and communities based on assumed physical and cognitive abilities. These widely held assumptions are based on perceived deviations from taken-for-granted physical and cognitive norms. Ableism is more than individual acts of discrimination against people with disabilities; it is built into the structures of society. Special education classrooms, short busses, and side doors with ramps, for example, send messages to people from a young age about how difference is understood and (de)valued in Western society. These messages, in turn, shape people’s thinking and subsequent behavior toward people with disabilities and people’s understanding of themselves as abled/disabled. 

Importantly, ableism intersects with other oppressive systems such as white supremacy, patriarchy, colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism and has shifted as dominant beliefs regarding ability and normality have shifted over time. Racialized portrayals of people as intellectually inferior or mentally abnormal/unhealthy, for instance, have been historically drawn on to justify colonial conquests. Perceptions of disability are always already bound up with ideas about race, gender, sexuality, and social and economic value. The social significance of ableism undoubtedly differs for different folks and across cultures. Within the United States, for example, the ruling ideology of individualism has major implications for people with disabilities. Autonomy and independence, concepts themselves deeply rooted in liberal humanism, are constantly reaffirmed as inherently valuable and desirable. These concepts are rarely called into question. Subsequently, within Western culture, conceptions of people with disabilities as deficient, flawed, or incomplete are normalized and naturalized. Notions of humans as autonomous, singular, and bounded entities, an idea deeply ingrained in Western culture, fuel ableism and hinder understandings of all people as fundamentally interdependent and necessarily bound up in one another.

While many people don’t have the privilege of choosing to ignore how ableism and ableist assumptions perpetually shape their interactions and fuel their marginalization, others can disregard the fact that they reap social and economic benefits through ableism at the expense of others. That being said, and without homogenizing the way in which ableism differentially impacts people’s lives, I think that a system that ranks and values people in relation to a hegemonic conception of physical and cognitive (including both intellectual and psychological) normality is ultimately deleterious for all.