Beware of Ableism!!!!

After reading the post by Nidhi Aggarwal on “Ableism” I was deeply touched. I really wanted to go into the depth of the matter. While surfing net I came across so many articles on “Ableism” which helped me develop more understanding about the subject. I don’t know why but this topic affected me somehow. It made me think beyond my power. I was so lost in it that I started imagining myself in the position of a person with disability, and only then I could feel the pain they go through everyday.

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ABLEISM IS A FORM OF PREJUDICE OR DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, WHICH IS COMMON IN SCHOOLS AND SOCIETY, BUT IS OFTEN OVERLOOKED.

While Looking for some resource on abelism I came across an interesting article “Confronting Ableism” in which Thomas Hehir says“Negative cultural attitudes toward disability can undermine opportunities for all students to participate fully in school and society.”

It is so true, though we always ignore this fact. The way society see others and form a negative mindset about disability (Ableism), makes it difficult for the people with disabilities to function normally in this world. This is do deeply embedded in our culture that we ourselves do not realize that we are a part of it.

In the article, h gives an example of a child who is born deaf. The parents, even after knowing about the fact, were determined to make him function normal(as per their definition of being normal) by making him learn to read lips and not teaching him sign language (which they should have done in order to make the boy independent). This made the child function comfortably around his family members, but once he entered school, it became difficult for him to adjust, interact and function normally.

This example clearly illustrates how we see disability and form negative attitudes about it. For us “BEING NORMAL” is the only scenario to function fully, while being born with disability means “ABNORMAL”.

In the article Hehir says “An ableist perspective asserts that it is preferable for a child to read print rather than Braille, walk rather than use a wheelchair, spell independently rather than use a spell-checker, read written text rather than listen to a book on tape, and hang out with non-disabled kids rather than with other disabled kids.”

It made me think and so many questions popped into my head.

Why this discrimination?
Why can’t we help people with disability function normally by making few adjustments in schools and other places?
Why can’t we encourage students to develop and use skills and modes of expression that are most effective for them, and not force them to follow whats normal for us?
Why can’t we picture ourselves in their place and then judge the situation?
Why do we have to be so selfish and ignorant?

Ableism cam make students feel inadequate and they can start feeling low of themselves, therefor it is very important to stop this attitude. In order to combat this attitude we need to join hands together and work as a team to minimize the impact of disability, making sure that each and every students gets chance to participate equally in all the activities. Minimizing the impact does not mean expressing sympathy or helping them to do things, but it means giving students the supports, skills, and opportunities needed to function as fully as possible with their disability. We should never forget the it is the right of every students to be a part of all the activities including sports. WE need to change our approach and rest will fall in place!!

In the article “Combating Ableism in Schools” Keith Storey (Which is available online through Dr. John Archer Library) makes the following recommendations to fight ABLEISM:

• Ability Awareness – Schools can have teachers and students participate in activities that simulate having a disability.
• Disability Content in Curriculum and School Activities – Disability needs to be understood in the context that is a an everyday part of life not just an occurrence to learn about on certain days of the year.
• Teacher Inservice – Training teachers about various disabilities and understanding the root of ableism can make a large impact on teacher attitude and actions.
• Disability Literature – Books are often integrated into the curriculum about various cultures, works about people with disabilities should also be included in the classroom.
• Use of Role Models – Students with disabilities need positive role models who are like themselves to look up to just as any other student would.
• Hiring Teachers with Disabilites – It is common practice to hire employees from diverse backgrounds in terms of ethnicity or civil rights. It is not as commonplace to hire educators who have a disability.

Here is a video that I came across which might interest you all.

Ref:
http://aapf.org/2007/11/combating-ableism-in-school/
http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb07/vol64/num05/Confronting-Ableism.aspx
http://voices.yahoo.com/ableism-negative-emotional-impact-disabled-889025.html

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