Ableism and Disability Rights: What You Need to Know -

The word “disabled” encompasses a broad spectrum of medical conditions—both physical and mental. As disability and SSI lawyers in Philadelphia, we have clients with a spectrum of disabling medical conditions. These can range from hearing loss and vision impairments to paralysis, Parkinson’s, chronic pain, and so many more.

While the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects the disabled population from many forms of discrimination, disability rights include much more than accessibility accommodations and protection from discrimination. What the ADA does not (and in many ways, cannot) regulate is what is known as ableism, or social prejudice against those with disabilities.

In this post, we’ll explain what ableism is and give some examples that illustrate how common it is in our society. We’ll also discuss what the able-bodied population can do to help address the issue, so we can begin making the world a more welcoming place for our disabled loved ones.

Defining Ableism

Ableism is a type of discrimination against disabled people, or in favor of able-bodied people, which can take many forms. While expressed hatred and denial of accessibility are commonly observed discriminatory conduct, ableism includes less-obvious actions as well.

Ableism is all around us. The recent movement to ban plastic straws was inconsiderate of disabled individuals who need straws to drink. The same is true for those who ridicule pre-cut fruits and greens at the grocery store. While it might seem like a waste of money and packaging to offer pre-cut produce, this is vital for those with Parkinson’s or a physical disability.

Often, people with “invisible disabilities” are victims of ableism. A person with chronic pain or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) can be seen as lazy or a bad worker when they are battling a physical and neurological disability.

Similarly, those with ADHD or bipolar disorder may be incapable of working full-time, even if their disability does not restrict them to a wheelchair or present obvious physical symptoms. This can lead to social pressures and hate from those who do not understand or recognize their disabilities.

How You Can Make a Difference

One thing every able-bodied person can do to help combat this form of social discrimination is to educate themselves and others, so the problem becomes more widely understood. Then, it becomes everyone’s duty to think about the ableist implications their actions might have, especially as it relates to social justice initiatives that might overlook disabled populations.

At Silver & Silver, our Social Security lawyers in Philadelphia, PA, hear about discrimination like this every day, but we understand not everyone is as involved with these individuals as we are. That is why we’re helping to spread the word and promote ableism awareness, and we hope you do too.