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Disrupting Ableism; From Education to Implementation

According to Dirth and Branscombe authors of “Recognizing Ableism: A Social Identity Analysis of Disabled People Perceiving Discrimination as Illegitimate, “Ableism is the discrimination of people who self-identify as non-abled bodied, have a disability, or more generically, any physical, sensory, cognitive, or mental health difference in ablility (Journal of Legal Studies Education). As stated from the World Health Organization, people who have a disability make up a total of 15% of our population. Although ableism is as relevant as any other form of marginalization, due to a lack of knowledge regarding ableism (often a result of paternalism and microaggressions), many of us have most likely contributed to ableism. Participants on a panel about disability at WSU suggest that comments like the following show how we might use language to cause harm: the “R” word, describing someone as “slow”, or suggesting,“that must suck” about one’s disability, illustrate comments rooted in pity. In my CURCA poster presentation, I will define ableism, explain its harm, and offer examples of how ableism is maintained through common misconceptions such as jokes or slang. Following that, I will include bullets with information on ways to disrupt and prevent it. Often, small changes in our perceptions and use of language can have big impacts. There needs to be more awareness and purpose when it comes to ableism in order to educate those who perpetuate ableism and prevent further ignorance toward this community.

Elizabeth Mercer '25
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