Ableism: Readings and Resources

Sharon Raz

Ableism is a type of discrimination in which able-bodied individuals are viewed as normal and superior to those with a disability, resulting in prejudice toward the latter. The modern concept of ableism emerged in the 1960s and ’70s, when disability activists placed disability in a political context.

Discrimination against disabled persons occurs in countries worldwide and may be reflected in individual, societal, and institutional attitudes and norms and in the arrangement or dynamics of certain environments. Indeed, interpretations of ableism are based on perspectives of what constitutes normal ability, which often gives shape to beliefs and norms and to physical and social environments. As a result, those affected by physical, mental, or emotional impairments tend to be in the minority and may be treated differently from their normal peers. Those factors can cause disabled persons to view ableism, rather than their impairments, as the primary barrier to their community participation (Britannica). Here are some resources you can use for the topic of ableism:

You can find a discussion about ableism in part 2 of Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice (2016):

  • Chapter 9 (pages 299-338) focuses on ableism.

Ableism or the systematic discrimination of people with disabilities is a form of oppression that is often given little attention. Ableism, like other forms of oppression, occurs at individual (i.e. individual prejudices and biases), cultural (societal view that people with disabilities are scary, broken, pitiful, dumb, etc.) and institutional (i.e. employment, education, and housing discrimination) levels. The following video clip introduces the topic of ableism and encourages discussion about the issues raised. The video clip highlights how commonly used negative labels continue to be incredibly damaging and oppressive to people with disabilities. I invite you to help deconstruct and challenge these labels through ongoing learning and dialogue. Video: Ableism.

See also Caroline Casey on Ted—a woman who is blind shares a personal narrative about challenging disability-related stigmas and barriers: TedTalk Video: Looking Past Limits

The CDC report on disability inclusion provides us with an opportunity to better understand how we can engage with inclusion of all people, from all ability levels. Disability Inclusion – CDC


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Diversity and Social Justice – Faculty Guide (2022 Edition) Copyright © 2021 by Sharon Raz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book