Last updated 2 days ago
Industry News

Time to wake up and call out our ableist ways

It is an “ism” that many have never heard of even though it has become so culturally entrenched in our community that even those with good intentions are guilty of this form of discrimination.

Called ableism, it is a form of prejudice that views people with a disability as abnormal and inferior to an able-bodied person.

Ableists convey the message that people with disabilities are neither full nor valuable members of our community.

For people with a disability — estimated to be about 40 per cent of our population — ableism permeates all facets of their lives including education, access to sporting and entertainment opportunities and, of course, employment opportunities.

It is within the employment arena that we have a shameful track record, with only around half of people with disabilities employed compared with just over 80 per cent of those without a disability.

While there are myriad reasons why it is almost twice as hard for a person with a disability to secure employment, it is the stigma created through our incessant use of ableist language that is most to blame.

Ableist language is any word or phrase that intentionally or inadvertently targets an individual with a disability.

How often do we hear the business leader refer to the crippled economy, a friend describe the moronic behaviour of a driver, or a coach tell a player he must have been blind to have missed the ball — all figures of speech that imply a comparison with a person with a form of disability.

Just take “lame”, for example, a word growing in popularity — including in our workplaces and a complete slur on those with a disability.

Perhaps you have heard your colleague or boss describe a presentation as “lame”, or state “the competitor’s pitch was lame” or “the excuse for the poor performance was lame”.

 

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