May 1, 2014 by KWills
(with thanks to Dirk Gently for the title)
I have just completed a month-long exploration of the art of poetry, with a view to improving my skills as a novelist. This may seem odd, but as I explained at the start, there are connections between prose and poetry that serve to improve any writer’s technique. For this year’s BADD post I will go a step further, and say that if you look hard enough, you will find a connections everywhere.
Wait, surely I’ve wondered off into the realms of abstract philosophy here? What does any of this have to do with Blogging Against Disablism Day? It’s simple: disablism, or any -ism for that matter, stems from a single piece of flawed thinking: seeing other people as “less” in some way. Putting a barrier in your mind between “us” and “them”, where “us” really means just “me”.
That is not to say that everyone is the same. We’re not. We’re all different, and that’s not a bad thing. We have different strengths and weaknesses, different abilities and responsibilities. Different talents, and different interests. But we need to treat each other as equals where is matters – inside our own heads.
Stamping out disablism means more than getting people to stop using offensive language, or making places accessible to everyone. It won’t be really gone until we stop thinking in terms of “us and them”; not just putting on a socially acceptable mask but actually thinking differently. Change has to happen from the inside, and that takes more than ramps and open subtitles.
Don’t get me wrong: ramps, open subtitles, plain-English information, braille signposts, and educating the public in matters such as how to react to an epileptic fit, or recognise a stroke – these are all positive things, and I’m not belittling the work it has taken to get them. But until we stop seeing these measures as “for those kinds of people” and start seeing them as “making the world better for everyone”, we will still have a problem with disablism.