International Day of Persons with Disabilities

(Audio version of International Day of Persons with Disabilities article)
(Image description: Background is a mix of greens, yellows, red, oranges, and blues paint in all directions. There is a solid white box with the words “Disability Inclusion Matters”. At the bottom of the box is clipart images of four people with varying visible disabilities.)

Did you know today, December 3rd, is International Day of Persons with Disabilities?

The inclusion of disability is essential in the world, not to mention a basic human right, yet many of us don’t see it. Why?

One reason is because society doesn’t recognize the discrimination and ableism as an issue. Many don’t even know what ableism is. So, if you don’t know what the term “ableism” is, let me explain. Dictionary.com defines the term in two ways:
1. The discrimination against disabled people
2. The tendency to regard people with a disability as incomplete, diminished, or damaged, and to measure the quality of life with a disability against a nondisabled standard

Ableism comes in many forms, not just words. It can be businesses refusing you service, businesses being inaccessible, businesses refusing to allow your guide dog, people assuming something about you based on your disability, people treating you differently based on your disability or people making negative comments based on your disability. 

Ableism can also be calling, or describing, someone with a word they don’t prefer, even after they’ve corrected you. Most disabled people don’t like the terms “differently-abled”, “handi-capable” or any other made up word used to avoid the term disabled. These nonexistent words were meant to be used to empower members of the disability community, but they actually take away a part of our identity and diminish our pride in being disabled. 

Here are 5 ableist things you should never do or say:
1. Never doubt or question someone’s disability
2. Never use any slur words
3. Never compare a person’s disability with someone else’s
4. Never pet a guide dog 
5. Never move someone’s wheelchair, walker, cane or other mobility device without permission

These are just a few of the endless list of ableist things that you should never do, but many of us disabled people face daily. 

Today, on International Day of Persons with Disabilities, educate yourself. Do a quick internet search on disabilities. There are endless amounts of resources available for you to learn how to be respectful and an ally to the disability community. 

“The way society thinks about disability needs to evolve, as too many people view disability as something to loathe or fear. By recognizing how disabled people enrich our communities, we can all be empowered to make sure disabled people are included.” ~JUDY HEUMANN, disability advocate

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