What is Ableism?

This introductory resource provides a working definition of ableism along with information to help reflect on ableist practices.

Ableism is a set of stereotypes and practices that devalue and discriminate against people with disabilities. It assumes that the bodies and minds of non-disabled people are the “default,” placing value on them based on society’s perceptions of what’s considered “normal.”

Talila Lewis, a community lawyer and disability advocate, offers a working definition of ableism that acknowledges the ways in which ableism is deeply rooted in other forms of marginalization and prejudice. Click here to the read the full definition

Eliminating Ableism

For examples of the forms that ableism can take, click here to read “Ableism 101: What it is, what it looks like, and what we can do to to fix it.

To begin to understand the immense toll of ableism, consider the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the disability community. For in-depth analysis of several key issues that have affected the disability community–from healthcare inequities to lack of access to education and employment–we suggest reading the National Council on Disability’s 2021 Progress Report: The Impact of COVID-19 on People with Disabilities.

Confronting our Ableism is a reflective piece that’s part of a series by the Northwest Health Foundation. It examines some concrete actions to eliminate ableism from their practices, because: “Unexamined, our ableism can keep people with disabilities ‘in’ by forcing them to conform to societal norms; ‘out’ by blocking participation; and ‘down’ by creating a culture that causes people to count themselves out.”