3 Levels of AbleismAug 14, 2023
Levels of Ableism
As someone who lives with a disability, I am keenly aware of the pervasive and damaging effects of ableism. Ableism is a term that refers to discrimination, prejudice, and bias against individuals with disabilities. It is a form of oppression that is deeply rooted in our society and affects people in both visible and invisible ways.
I typically refer to three types of ableism: systemic, interpersonal, and internalized. Systemic ableism is the most insidious and pervasive form of ableism. It refers to the policies, laws, and practices that exclude, discriminate against, and oppress people with disabilities. This includes everything from inaccessible buildings and transportation to discrimination in employment and education. Systemic ableism is often hidden and operates at the structural level, making it difficult to identify and challenge.
Interpersonal ableism, on the other hand, refers to the individual attitudes and behaviors that discriminate against people with disabilities. This includes everything from overt discrimination, such as name-calling and exclusion, to more subtle forms of discrimination, such as assuming that someone with a disability is helpless or in need of pity. Interpersonal ableism can be hurtful, isolating, and demoralizing for people with disabilities.
Internalized ableism is the form of ableism that people with disabilities experience within themselves. It is the internalization of the messages they have received from society that they are less capable, less valuable, or less deserving than non-disabled people. Internalized ableism can lead to feelings of shame, self-doubt, and self-hatred, which can prevent people with disabilities from living their lives to the fullest.
Ableism is a form of oppression that affects millions of people worldwide. It perpetuates inequality and denies people with disabilities the same opportunities and rights as non-disabled people. It is up to all of us to challenge ableism in all its forms and to create a society that is truly inclusive, accessible, and equitable for all. We must work to dismantle systemic ableism, challenge interpersonal ableism, and support people with disabilities as they navigate the process of unlearning internalized ableism.