Wisdom//

Disability Bias Is A Thing. Here’s How to Combat It

We must fight against prejudice.

Courtesy of Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock
Courtesy of Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock

People with mental and physical disabilities have been condemned, alienated, even feared, perhaps more than any other group throughout history – their disability explained away, overtly or subconsciously, as a punishment from God, inferior genetics, bad karma, dishonour on the family, or simply being backwards. Their options have been severely limited and they’ve had to live and work in conditions that could accommodate their disability – unless of course their disability could be used as a reason to bar them from employment in the first place. Obviously, this is made worse if they are from a poor back­ground, resulting in destitution or a reliance on charity – not least because, in the UK, life costs £550 more on average a month if you’re disabled. And it’s not just here: unfortunately 80 per cent of the global disabled population currently lives in the world’s poorest countries.

Prejudice against people with disabilities is often more subtle than against certain ‘others’, but it is nonetheless still there. At the height of the popularity of the sci-fi TV series The X-Files, there was an episode titled ‘Quagmire’ in which Agent Mulder tells Agent Scully that he would have liked to have been born disabled, so he wouldn’t be expected to work as hard and would be considered ‘courageous’ for even holding down a job, let alone thriving in one. An article by the National Collaborative Workforce and Disability (NCWD) describes the ignorant tone of this episode and its reflection of wider societal attitudes:

The fact that a respected character on one of America’s most popular television shows expressed this viewpoint exemplifies the rampant attitudinal barriers hindering people with disabilities in or trying to enter the workforce. People with disabilities face many barriers every day – from physical obstacles in buildings to systemic barriers in employment and civic programs. Yet, often, the most difficult barriers to overcome are attitudes other people carry regarding people with disabilities. Whether born from ignorance, fear, misunder­standing or hate, these attitudes keep people from appreciating – and experiencing – the full potential a person with a disability can achieve.

The article goes on to explain the complexities of attitude change, and how it is not possible to legislate for this. It states that the best way to change the way that those with disabilities are viewed is to increase their visibility and familiarity – in the workplace, socially, in education, and at home. By addressing these issues head-on, we open up greater opportunities not only for those directly affected by disability, but for everyone.

From Diversify by June Sarpong. Copyright (c) 2017 by the author and reprinted by permission of Harper Collins Publishers.

Follow us here and subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving.

Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Well-Being//

The Protection 1 in 4 of Us Will Need — but Don’t Have

by Lawrence S. Hazzard
Community//

Unstoppable: “Disability is caused by the way society is structured, rather than by a person’s impairment or difference” with actor, filmmaker and double hand amputee, John Lawson

by Yitzi Weiner at Authority Magazine
Community//

Things You Should Never Say To Someone With A Disability

by Osamudiamen Kelvin Omere

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.