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What is Ableism?

A brief primer




“There's nothing more debilitating about a disability than the way people treat you over it.” ― Solange nicole

Ableism is when people without disabilities see people with them as being ‘less than’… It is when a chasm exists because abled bodied people decide that the needs of disabled individuals are, in fact, not needs but demands that can be turned down… Ableism is cruel, and isolating, and ugly.

“An ableist society is said to be one that treats non-disabled individuals as the standard of ‘normal living’, which results in public and private places and services, education, and social work that are built to serve ‘standard’ people, thereby inherently excluding those with various disabilities.” — stopableism.org

NOTE: This piece is meant as a primer, NOT an all-inclusive explanation. If you have additional thoughts and resources to share on ableism, please leave a comment doing so — we are better together.

Merriam-Webster defines ableism as:


: discrimination or prejudice against individuals with disabilities






Ableism is the last, seemingly safe prejudice to hold, espouse, defend.


Why the hell is that?!?


I’m not sure, but I think it may have something to do with a universal fear of becoming disabled that causing people to other those who do not live in able bodies and/or with able minds.


It’s wrong.


Whatever the reason, discriminating against someone who is disabled is wrong.


A quick Google search using the term “What is Ableism” is, for this disabled writer, extraordinary exhausting.

If you doubt that our culture sees disabled individuals as ‘less than’ and/or the last safe minority to discriminate against, check out this information from Wikipedia:


Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984

The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act was passed to promote the fundamental right to vote by improving access for handicapped and elderly individuals to registration facilities and polling places for Federal elections by requiring access to polling places used in Federal elections and available registration and voting aids, such as instructions in large type [15]

Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988

The federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of disability and requires that newly constructed multi-family housing meet certain access guidelines while requiring landlords to allow disabled persons to modify existing dwellings for accessibility.

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) was passed on July 26, 1990 during the George H. W. Bush administration and amended on January 1, 2009. The act gave individuals with disabilities civil rights protections.[16]

Ableism is still marked as a misspelled word in every writing app I use :/


Ableism is culture-wide.


Ableism is wrong.


NOTE: This piece is meant as a primer, NOT an all-inclusive explanation. If you have additional thoughts and resources to share on ableism, please leave a comment doing so — we are better together.


Katherine Grace (she/her/) is a survivor with a very sharp memory who is devoted to not repeating the past and helping others do the same. She writes about self-care & love, mental illness, gratitude, and the adventures of being an Autistic disabled woman. "It's all about seeking (and finding) the magic within our everyday mundane moments... and allowing ourselves the grace of being fully and imperfectly human."


If you benefit from this work and want to support her efforts and this website, please visit her Ko-Fi page. Thank you.


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