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

What is ableism and what forms are there?

People with disabilities are often given a stamp because of their abilities. what itself behind the term "ableism" , you read in our em Wombly blog . _
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ableism - What does that mean ?

Derived from the English verb “to be able”, i.e. “to be capable of something”, 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 Definition of “hostility toward people with disabilities”. 

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 projects as perfect, species-specific, and therefore essential and fully human." becomes. Disability is thus molded into a diminished state of being human ” (Campbell, 2001). People with disabilities are reduced to these impairments and experience devaluation as a result. The concept of ableism focuses on the normative classification of disability and non-disability. A standard is defined against which everyone has to measure themselves. According to Campbell, disability is understood as a deficit. 

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Where does disability actually begin?

What does ableism mean for people with disabilities? 

To be treated Ableist means to be excluded from mainstream society in many areas and to be an exception. It is active discrimination when people with disabilities are not considered equal by non-disabled people. Many people with disabilities are not expected to be as capable, sometimes less expected, and they are often denied competencies. 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 revaluing ableism 

  • Derogatory ableism: active discrimination, pushing into the role of victim, offering help without being asked, compassion, companions being addressed instead of the person with a disability, using the familiar form without being asked

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

Ableism – Firmly anchored in society 

It is the day-to-day planning of activities that makes it difficult for many people with disabilities. Accessibility, for example, is still not part of normality, there is still a responsibility to inform oneself whether there is barrier-free access, whether films are shown with subtitles, whether they are translated into sign language, 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 at eye level, the protagonists are still portrayed in a clichéd way. They are mostly reported on in the context of health and education; Children with disabilities are rarely found in parenting guides. The representation in films is often done by able-bodied actors. When disabled actors are shown, the focus is usually on the disability itself. 

Access and possible participation in life are still associated with great efforts. This is usually accompanied by a lack of access to resources and tools. People who cannot afford prostheses, high-tech wheelchairs, hearing aids and visual aids are excluded per se.  

deconstruct ableism 

We are still in an intermediate state between making disability visible and taking it for granted. Inclusion succeeds above all when people with and without disabilities take action together and are also shown. It is therefore important to engage in exchange, to share experiences and to draw attention to unfair treatment. Above all, however, inclusion succeeds when each individual reflects on themselves: Do I treat my counterpart with respect, do I meet them as equals and do I show 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 to make everyday life easier.

(Image credit: Andi Weiland |

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