According to the website Access Living, “Ableism is the discrimination of and social prejudice against people with disabilities based on the belief that typical abilities are superior.”
In my life, ableism has been a significant contributor to the fact that I developed depression which worsened a few years ago. From my earliest years, I remember being compared to my non-disabled peers. It always frustrated me. Because I knew I was disabled, so why compare me to somebody who isn’t? I tried to do the best I could at the time. After all, I’m only human. It is frustrating when you see things differently than most people because of your disability.
Ableism only became more prominent in my life as I grew older. I was 11-years-old when I first tried out a power wheelchair. I became mad when someone suggested that a wheelchair could be helpful. I saw needing a wheelchair as defeat. I didn’t want to lose my ability to walk. It was my own stubbornness and fears that kept me from actually getting a power wheelchair until I was 13. Almost ten years later, I have now received my second power wheelchair. The process of receiving my newest wheelchair was complicated and took over a year. It’s tiring having to fight for your basic needs.
Ableism is present in the adult world as well. When I started college in 2018, I was brimming with hope. I quickly realized that getting accommodations was a challenge, from finding personal care assistants to making sure I had accessible materials, nothing was simple. It required a level of advocacy that I wasn’t used to. The process involves lots of e-mails, paperwork, and phone calls. Getting what I needed felt like a full time job.
I pursued a college degree with the hopes of becoming employed. I wanted my college education to be meaningful. However, I soon discovered that disabled people often have a harder time becoming gainfully employed. Even deciding to disclose my CP, is a challenge. Often, people are interested in interviewing me until I disclose my disability. According to the Bureau Of Labor Statistics, in 2020, 17.9 percent of persons with a disability were employed, down from 19.3 percent in 2019. This is despite the fact that disabled people are the world’s largest minority.
Ableism has made me question my worth, and wonder why I am here on this earth. Slowly, I am realizing that everybody is worthy. We all matter and have something to offer the world.
Caprino, Kathy. “The World’s Largest Minority Might Surprise You, And How We Can Better Serve Them.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 14 Apr. 2016, http://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2016/04/14/the-worlds-largest-minority-might-surprise-you-and-how-we-can-better-serve-them/?sh=737aa3ca496f.
Eisenmenger, Ashley. “Ableism 101 – What Is Ableism? What Does It Look like?” Access Living, Access Living, 12 Dec. 2019, http://www.accessliving.org/newsroom/blog/ableism-101/.
“Persons with a Disability: Labor Force Characteristics Summary.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24 Feb. 2021, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/disabl.nr0.htm