How do I Avoid Accidentally Saying Something Ableist?

Anonymous asks, quote:

As someone who is not disabled, I often feel guilty when I come across blogs like this because I fall into the same traps you express annoyance about. Like morbid curiosity or praise. But it’s blogs like these that help me realize what I’m doing wrong and see life from an entirely different perspective. I hope I can improve as a person as a result. I don’t know why I’m sending this, exactly, I just want to know how I can improve. I don’t want to say or do things I don’t know are ableist.

end quote.

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:

quote:

Sarah won the basketball game despite the fact that she’s disabled.

end quote

This sentence can be turned into

quote:

Sarah won the basketball game despite the fact that she’s a woman.

end quote

We can even apply it to situations that, at first glance, might sound like a reasonable accommodation. For example:

quote:

The airline asked the woman to move because the man next to her felt uncomfortable sitting next to someone of a different gender.

end quote

Such a simple statement can be made into something quite insidious by changing a single word.

quote:

The airline asked the woman to move because the man next to her felt uncomfortable sitting next to someone of a different race.

end quote

In another example, what is initially meant as a compliment can actually be extremely harmful.

quote:

Dave said Man, do you have a motor on that thing?! You’re really fast! to the man in the wheelchair as he went by in a hurry to catch the bus.

end quote
quote: end quote

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.