Ableismus: Junger Mann benutzt einen Rollstuhl und arbeitet an einer Werkbank

What is ableism and what forms are there?

People with disabilities often get because of their abilities put a stamp on it. What is happening? behind the term "ableism" hides, are you reading in ourin Wombly-Blog
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Ableism - What means ands?  

Derived from the English verb “to be able”, the term ableism [ɛɪ̯bəˈlɪsmʊs] includes the discriminatory assessment of the physical, mental and psychological abilities and functions of an individual and is therefore described as more concrete than the rough one Definition of “anti-disability”.  

Australian disability studies researcher Fiona Kumari Campbell defines ableism as “a network of beliefs, processes and practices that produce a peculiar kind of self and body (the corporeal standard) that is projected as perfect, species-typical and therefore essential and fully human. Disability is thus formed into a diminished state of humanity(Campbell, 2001, quoted from Campbell, 2008, translation R.M.). People with disabilities are reduced to these impairments and therefore experience devaluation. The concept of ableism brings the normative division of disability and non-disability into focus. A standard is defined by which everyone has to measure themselves. According to Campbell, disability is understood as a deficit.  

What do you think?
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Where does disability actually begin?

What does ableism mean for people with disabilities? 

Being ableist means being excluded from mainstream society in many areas and representing an exception. It is active discrimination when people with disabilities are not viewed as equal to non-disabled people. Many people with disabilities are expected to have less, sometimes even less, and their skills are often denied. People of short stature or people in wheelchairs are often mentally underestimated, and those affected are often not perceived as full-fledged decision-makers. This type of discrimination can have many consequences: insecurity, identity problems, social withdrawal and even mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety disorders. 

Forms of ableism 

A distinction can be made between two forms of discrimination: derogatory and evaluative ableism 

  • Derogatory ableism: active discrimination, pushing people into the role of victim, offering help without being asked, pity, accompanying people being addressed instead of the person with a disability, being on a first-name basis without being asked 

  • Appreciative ableism: positive discrimination, praise for everyday things, hero formulations 

Ableism – firmly anchored in society 

It is the everyday planning of activities that makes it difficult for many people with disabilities. Accessibility, for example, is still not the norm; there is still a responsibility to find out whether there is barrier-free access, whether films are shown with subtitles, whether translation is done in sign, etc. Habits are only slowly changing here, Events, institutions, etc. are marked.  

Another important point is the representation of people with disabilities in the media. The reporting is usually not done on an equal footing and the protagonists are still portrayed in clichéd ways. They are mostly reported on in the context of health and education; Children with disabilities are rarely found in parenting guides. The portrayal in films is often done by non-disabled actors. When disabled actors are featured, the focus is usually on the disability itself.  

Access and possible participation in life still require great effort. This is usually accompanied by a lack of access to resources and aids. People who cannot afford prostheses, high-tech wheelchairs, hearing aids and visual aids are inherently excluded.   

Deconstructing ableism  

We are still in an intermediate state between making disability visible and taking it for granted. Inclusion is particularly successful when people with and without disabilities take action together and are shown. It is therefore important to engage in dialogue, share experiences and draw attention to unfair treatment. Above all, inclusion succeeds when each individual reflects on themselves: Do I treat my counterpart with respect, do I meet them at eye level and do I behave in solidarity? Nobody wants to be devalued as the other. And this applies in every direction. 

We hope the blog post was able to give you an introduction to the topic. Do you have any questions or comments? We would be happy to receive your comments!

Wombly tries to make a contribution to equality: We develop clothing that helps you and your children make everyday life easier.

(Image credit: Andi Weiland |

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