Ableism is discrimination in favor of able-bodied people. It characterizes people based on their disabilities. Those who have this type of mindset believe that disabled persons are inferior to those non-disabled. This is not as simple as those who have no physical disabilities believe those who are physically handicapped are less significant. Another way to look at the definition of this word is to think of it more as "ideas, practices, institutions, and social relations that presume able-bodiedness" and marginalize persons with disabilities.

What are some examples?

Ableism is a type of mindset that can be applied to many different situations.

For instance, telling someone to just eat healthy without knowing their background is an ableist mindset. There are many factors that go into why someone's diet is the way it is. Depending on where a person lives, sometimes it's easier and cheaper to buy traditionally unhealthy foods as opposed to healthy options. If you can buy an entire meal at McDonald's for $5 or a few apples for the same price, it makes sense for someone who is struggling financially to go with the fast food meal. Someone could be financially unstable for a variety of reasons, including some type of disability.

A disability is not always visible. There could be something affecting one's mental health, such as a mental illness, disorder, or handicap.

According to FWD: Forward, "ableism is a form of discrimination or prejudice against individuals with physical, mental, or developmental disabilities that is characterized by the belief that these individuals need to be fixed or cannot function as full members of society."

Moving forward

There has been a history of ableism and legislation in the United States.

Parts of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the American Disabilities Act of 1990 enforced penalties to those who fail to make public places comply with the ADA Access Guidelines. Some ways to comply with these codes are installing wheelchair ramps and expanding the use of adaptive services or interpreters that help with those who are hearing-impaired.

Unfortunately, there are still people who dismiss the illness, disorder, or handicap, and/or simply downplay its effects. According to FWD: Forward, "ableism can be accidental," but that doesn't mean it's okay. By enforcing laws to help minimize the harm this type of discrimination can have, there is a possibility for a more fair and equal world.

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