Disability Microaggressions — AKA “Ableist things people say”
Yes, all of these have actually happened to me personally
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What is a microaggression?
A microaggression is an indirect, subtle, possibly unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group. Usually these take the form of statements, actions, incidents, or exclusions. Being excluded from an event because of what the host perceives you can or can’t do is almost always a microaggression.
- I’ve been excluded from walking meetings, because I can’t walk.
- At one job, I wasn’t invited to important meetings that happened 4:30 or later because it was assumed I was more interested in taking care of my children than attending a late meeting
- I am currently excluded from traveling overseas for my employer to locations where accessible building leases were not procured
After 50+ years of dealing with this, I can tell you that microaggressions are mentally very wearing. And especially for people with disabilities, they don’t seem to be slowing down or even becoming unacceptable.
What is Ableism?
Ableism is to disabilities what racism is to people of color. Ableism is, in short, the expression of a discriminatory preference for someone without a disability. Ableism assigns inferior worth to people who have developmental, emotional, physical or psychiatric disabilities by devaluing and limiting their potential. Ableism includes things like belittling the need for mobility devices, accessible parking cards, assistive technology or interpreters, the need to take medication, doctor’s appointments, or any other headaches that people with disabilities have to deal with to be equal that people without disabilities typically don’t have a clue about.