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Services for Students With Disabilities Division of Student Affairs

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Ableism – What is it?

Ableism is discrimination and bias against the disabled. After fighting for and winning the battle to have Section 504 regulated in 1977 and the 1990 ADA signed into law, we still experience ableism in many forms. In higher education, it would take the shape of faculty not having their courses in an accessible format, of not having visual descriptions for videos shown in class, of not speaking loudly and clearly while facing forward, and of not respecting students’ required needs for SSWD accommodations. It would also take the shape of campus activities and events not having ASL or CART, not having seating for those in wheelchairs and scooters in locations where they can equally experience the event, and not considering the disabling factors that may exist for members of the campus community in any campus-sponsored or coordinated event.

Ableism also can include mocking and making fun of an individual wearing a face mask due to personal health, even though the requirement to wear masks has been greatly relaxed. In this case, the one mocking the face mask wearer is assuming they have the right to determine what is appropriate and they are asserting their opinion, even though it may be against the best interest of the one wearing the face mask.