How Do I Avoid Accidentally Saying Something Ableist?
Everyone has biases and it takes a lot of integrity to admit to them and actively seek out ways to overcome them. In my experience, there’s a simple rule you can use to figure out if something you think, believe, or say is an ‐ist or an ‐ism (ableist, sexist, racist, etc.,):
Take your statement, and swap out one immutable trait for another. If changing the statement makes you uncomfortable, you probably shouldn’t say it. Let me give you some examples:
This sentence can be turned into
We can even apply it to situations that, at first glance, might sound like a reasonable accommodation. For example:
Such a simple statement can be made into something quite insidious by changing a single word.
In another example, what is initially meant as a compliment can actually be extremely harmful.
Are you cringing yet? Because I sure am.
Next time you’re not sure if what you’re about to say might be biased or hurtful in some way, do this quick test. I guarantee it will save you (and the people you care about) a lot of heartache.