Why Fight Disablism? A Global Perspective: Blogging against Disablism Day (BADD) 2012
Why fight disablism?
The short answer takes one paragraph: Because disablism is more than just an attitude. Because when people hold disablist attitudes toward people with disabilities, people with disabilities are excluded, isolated, left out, left behind, and pushed to the margins of society. Disabled people are hurt in physical ways that can leave bruises, rope burns, broken bones, and even dead bodies. And people with disabilities also are hurt in not so physical ways that, sometimes they say are even worse.
The long answer would have to involve listening to one billion people on the face of the Earth describing the one billion ways that disablism impacts their lives. Because one billion is the number of people with disabilities living in the world today. And, chances are, all of them would have a slightly different answer to what disablism means. And it’s not just disabled people and their loved ones who think that various forms of prejudice that people with disabilities is an important issue. Two major international organizations—the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO)—have this to say about the effects of the social inequities that people with disabilities experience daily:
“Across the world, people with disabilities have poorer health outcomes, lower education achievements, less economic participation and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities. This is partly because people with disabilities experience barriers in accessing services that many of us have long taken for granted, including health, education, employment, and transport as well as information.”
They cite many inter-related causes for these effects. And these include negative attitudes that others may sometimes hold toward people with disabilities:
“Beliefs and prejudices constitute barriers to education, employment, health care, and social participation. For example, the attitudes of teachers, school administrators, other children, and even family members affect the inclusion of children with disabilities in mainstream schools. Misconceptions by employers that people with disabilities are less productive than their non-disabled counterparts, and ignorance about available adjustments to work arrangements limits employment opportunities.”
If you want to read their evidence for yourself, check out the World Report on Disability that the World Bank and WHO released, with a big media splash, in September 2011: http://www.who.int/disabilities/world_report/2011/report/en/index.html
This publication is available in any of the major United Nations languages, namely, English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, and Chinese
I’m fortunate that my passion for international disability rights coincides with my career path: I’m now at an organization based in Washington, DC, called the U.S. International Council on Disability (USICD). When people ask me what the U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD) does, there are a few basic answers I could give. I can say that USICD works to mobilize the U.S. disability community to become more engaged with the international disability rights movement. It works to promote U.S. ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which is the first legally binding international human rights treaty to specifically protect the human rights of people with disabilities. It promotes disability inclusion in U.S. foreign assistance programs abroad. And, via the Global Disability Rights Library (GDRL) project, which I manage, we are working to deliver disability rights knowledge to advocates and policy makers in developing countries who have limited Internet connectivity. No, it’s not an “anti-disablism” organization per se. But I suspect that its mission would align well with the values of many of the people participating in the 2012 edition of Blogging Against Disablism Day (BADD).
I’ll probably spend a good part of May browsing through the many excellent blog posts I anticipate will be presented as part of this year’s Blogging against Disablism Day (BADD) on May 1, 2012. For the past several years, this event has been hosted by the disability blogger at “Diary of a Goldfish”, which means her blog is the go-to link for finding all the other BADD posts for 2012. (And for archived BADD posts from past years also.) Usually a hundred or more bloggers participate, all with something fresh to say about what disablism means to them. Many are themselves people with disabilities. Many other bloggers are friends, families, and allies of disabled people. I hope you will explore the other BADD contributions, also! In past years, most participating bloggers have been from developed countries. But I hope that bloggers from developing countries will also consider making contributions to the event, either this year (it’s not too late!) or in future years. Enjoy the day!