Ableism is a set of beliefs or practices that devalue and discriminate against people with physical, intellectual, or psychiatric disabilities and is frequently based on the assumption that disabled people must be ‘fixed’ in some way. Because of many limiting beliefs about what disability means or does not mean, how nondisabled people learn to treat people with disabilities, and how we are frequently excluded from key decisions, ableism is intertwined in our culture.
Like most forms of discrimination, ableism frequently manifests itself through good intentions from nondisabled people. Unfortunately, good intentions never resulted in the resolution of any problems. So let us set aside our good preferences and get to the bottom of what’s happening. Much of ableism, I believe, stems from the medical model of disability, in which we first came to understand disability through the lens of a doctor—something is ‘wrong’ with this person. That something needs to be fixed. This is how we are taught to perceive disability. We have gone wrong in how we have interpreted the word “wrong.” Just because something is unique does not imply that it is undesirable. We live in a culture where entire television series is dedicated to the medical complications of various types of disabilities. Nondisabled people frequently ask people with disabilities, “What kind of medical complications have you had?” How many surgeries have you undergone? “While I am proud of every surgery and scar I have had/have, I do not believe my medical record is the entirety of who I am. To shed light on this form of ableism, I have recently begun returning the question to these unsuspecting information seekers by asking for the specifics of their medical history. They are perplexed as to what to say in response.
Furthermore, this line of questioning assumes that no matter how many surgeries I have or have not had, they still haven’t solved the “problem.” I have carefully selected my team of doctors and know they have solved all of the MEDICAL problems that need to be solved. Concerning the social ones, disabled people work on them every day and can claim to be experts.
TOPIC : Christianity and Ableism as punishment from God (400 – 1800 CE)
1) Outline the basic history of the event(s). You can use a timeline or write it out.
2) What ways was disability defined during your topic’s era?
3) How were the differently abled (disabled) treated during your topic’s time?
4) What beliefs, attitudes and values of your chosen topic’s culture influenced the way differently abled people were treated?
5) In what ways has your chosen topic’s culture or era influenced modern American ideas on the differently abled and disability?