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One step forward, Two unsteady steps back

Updated: May 14

Internalised ablism is when disabled people absorb negative societal opinions and perspectives of disability. This can impact hugely on self-worth and wellbeing.

A word cloud in a speech bubble with words related to challenge
Challenge Society

Like any significantly challenging aspect in life, we often experience the five stages of grief; things that put us at a disadvantage, things that set us aside from the few people the world is so snugly built around. Denial, Anger, Depression, Bargaining, and Acceptance. These five stages are not linear. The power ableist views, infrastructural designs, and inflexible processes can have over where we sit in the five stages is palpable, influenced by the world around us, often coming from those who are ill-informed.

There are plenty of opportunities to learn about disability, yet the fundamentals are still not fully understood. The Social Model teaches us that society disables us with its environmental, organisational, and attitudinal barriers. Where is the urgency to include? We would all benefit. All it requires is a commitment to learning that society plays a huge role in creating equity. The inconsistency in action and awareness enables internalised ableism to live in the shadows, knowing it can surface through the fragile cracks, leaving us vulnerable and exposed.

The context we enter can crush even the strongest and most resilient people. It can crush the newly gained and delicately maintained feeling of accomplishment or the newly polished feeling of wellbeing. The finely tuned art of self-reflection or the carefully mastered ability to remain calm in the face of injustice. It can halt the ever-so-spritely spring in your step.

What can you do about it? Be curious and learn. Prepare to actively listen to perspectives that reflect a different reality to your own. Try to hear them. Explore what it means to be inclusive. It is not rocket science but it does require change.

Inclusion benefits everyone, people from all walks of life. It means the mould has a fluid elasticity, allowing it to bend and cling to the peg, no matter its shape, size, colour, or appearance - adjusting to the peg, rather than the peg having to adjust to it. Inclusion means we respect, value, and embrace difference.

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