Why Fight Disablism? A Global Perspective: Blogging against Disablism Day (BADD) 2012

Posted on 1 May 2012. Filed under: Cross-Disability, Human Rights, Inclusion, Opinion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

I first wrote this essay in 2012, for a global on-line event in which people wrote about discrimination against persons with disabilities. I have lightly edited this essay to make it more relevant to audiences in 2021.

Why fight disablism, also known as ableism? Disablism (or ableism) is a form of discrimination toward people with disabilities?

The short answer takes one paragraph:  We need to fight disablism because disablism is more than just an attitude.  Disablism excludes people with disabilities, isolates them, leaves them out, leaves them behind, and pushes them 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 they also are hurt in other ways that some say can be worse than physical abuse.

The long answer would have to involve listening to one billion people on the face of the Earth describe 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 it is important to address discrimination against people with disabilities. 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. Scholars, experts, and advocates still frequently cite the report today, in 2021.

I’m fortunate that my passion for international disability rights coincides with my career path. For more than eight years, I worked 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.  And USICD also promotes disability inclusion in U.S. foreign assistance programs abroad.  And, via the Global Disability Rights Library (GDRL) project, which I coordinated for three years,, USICD worked 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).

The Blogging Against Disablism Day used to be an annual event held on May 1st each year. While it was active, the disability blogger at “Diary of a Goldfish” hosted the event each year. This meant her blog was the go-to link for finding all the other BADD posts for 2012.  Her blog also is still where you can find archived BADD posts from previous years.  Usually a hundred or more bloggers participated each year, all with something fresh to say about what disablism means to them.  Many participating bloggers are themselves people with disabilities.  Other participating bloggers are friends, families, and allies of disabled people.  I hope you will explore the other BADD contributions also!


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