Are you ready to be anti-ableist in 2021?

Make a New Year’s Resolution to add anti-ableism to your skillset from 2021 going forward.

Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC

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The word “Disability” letter spelled in ASL with the DIS separated from ABILITY

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As I start to think about the standard “year-end” / wrap-up articles related to accessibility, this one seems pretty obvious.

We need more people to be anti-ableist.

Ableism is a set of beliefs or practices that devalue and discriminate against people with physical, intellectual, or psychiatric disabilities and often rests on the assumption that disabled people need to be “fixed” and are not equal to non-disabled individuals.

Anti-ableism is the opposite of ableism, with a practical focus on strategies, theories, actions, and practices that challenge and counter ableism, inequalities, prejudices, and discrimination based on any type of disability — including visible, invisible, learning, developmental, physical, or mental health.

Being anti-ableist requires more than just being a disability ally/a11y (a11y is the abbreviation for accessibility, which I will use for the rest of this article). Anti-ableists incur major risk — they put themselves out there, risking being the recipient of the same type of blowback as people with disabilities. Being anti-ableist also requires two separate work components:

  1. The ability to grow in one’s allyship with any underrepresented group. Because this is in general, this is the “breadth” component of anti-ableism.
  2. The ability to deepen one’s understanding of the barriers that regularly impact people with disabilities and how to best address and remove those barriers. Because this is specific to disabilities, this is the “depth” component of anti-ableism.

General growth to become a true and authentic ally includes:

  1. Self-reflection. What have you been…

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Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC

LinkedIn Top Voice for Social Impact 2022. UX Collective Author of the Year 2020. Disability Inclusion SME. Sr Staff Accessibility Architect @ VMware.