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5 Ways to Avoid Everyday Ableism

"We do not live single-issue lives." - Audre Lorde

1. Take the Stairs!

If you see a person with a disability in line behind you for the elevator, ask yourself, “Am I using this as a necessity or convenience?”

If it’s the latter, climb the stairs or give the person with the disability priority.

"I can’t count the number of times I’ve been waiting for an elevator with a large group of able-bodied people in front of me only to watch them all squeeze on and leave me to wait for the next one."

2. Don't Use Handicapped Restrooms

There are usually also at least three regular stalls for every handicapped restroom, so please don’t be the jerk that uses the one bathroom available to the people with mobility impairments.

"I have found that this issue makes people very annoyed because it’s a choice that they make unconsciously and will try to come up with a list of circumstances where it’s okay to use the accessible restroom."

3. Beware of Patronizing

Never assume someone’s intellectual capacity based on their physical capabilities or lack thereof.

"Avoid excessive enthusiasm where everything sounds like a question - the baby talk is uncomfortable for all of us."

4. Never address disabled folks through an able-bodied person!

"Because of my physical impairments, I’m perceived socially as a small child. Sometimes this results in the assumption that I am incapable of processing direct speech.
I have had multiple people on different occasions ask my mom if I am able to speak while I am right next to her and clearly listening."

In addition, it’s important not to equate verbal ability to the presence of comprehension. Plenty nonverbal friends communicate and process at the same rates as everyone else.

5. Don't ask, "What Happened?"

Disability is usually (and misguidedly) associated with a moment of trauma, like an accident.

Also, It’s not a disabled persons job to educate anyone, children or adults. Everyone has the right to go about their day without being accosted.

"It always makes me laugh that people act disappointed when I tell them I was born with cerebral palsy, as if that’s too mundane."

BONUS VIDEO: Stella Young says, "I'm Not Your Inspiration, Thank You Very Much."

(10 Min)

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