Updated: Jul 10
Currently, approximately 1 billion people across the planet have disabilities according to the World Health Organization. Most of these people are not fortunate to enjoy some of life's fundamental experiences. They often are unlikely to receive education from school, obtain a job, buy a house, create a family, or socialize with friends. These disadvantages make people with disabilities the world's largest minority with drawbacks.
In response to these struggles, the International Community established the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities according to the United Nations. This organization aims to fight discrimination, exclusion, and dehumanization of people with disabilities. Many countries have joined this initiative, which entered into force in May, 2008.
Much of this discrimination is due to a belief of ableism. Ableism is the discrimination against people with disabilities solely based on the belief that they lack the basic abilities to complete a task. People who believe in ableism often assume that people with disabilities require "fixing" and define those people with their disabilities. Just like racism and sexism, ableism presents a similar issue in which an entire group of people is categorized as less superior as others, which is in fact untrue because everyone deserves to be treated equally.
The first step to combatting ableism is recognizing it. When someone discloses that they have a disability, it is important to believe that person and not accuse them of faking their disability in order to gain an advantage. When someone requests an accommodation or assistance, it is important to listen and help out when necessary. Consent is key when assisting in the movement of equipment of a person with disabilities. Similarly, it is respectful to not ask invasive questions to those people.
After recognizing ableism, there are several methods to raise awareness in order to fight it. By discussing disabilities with children and young people, we can educate our next generation to be more sensitive and accommodating to this issue. In order to offer accessibility for everyone at an event, it is important to share with planners this additional component. Additionally, offering to be an ally of someone with disabilities can go a long way to ensuring they have equal opportunities. Together, we can stand up to this injustice and make the world a better place for everyone.