Discrimination against the disabled or ableism is discrimination action against people based on the physical ability of their body especially against people with disabilities (Definitions of Disability) in favor of people who are not disabled. An ableist society is said to be one that treats non-disabled individuals as the standard of “normal living”, which results in public and private places and services, education, and social work that are built to serve ‘standard’ people, thereby inherently excluding those with various disabilities.
Definition of Inclusion
Inclusion, comparatively, means that all products, services, and societal opportunities and resources are fully accessible, welcoming, functional and usable for as many different types of abilities as reasonably possible. An ableist society tends towards isolation, pity, paternalism and low self-esteem among people with disabilities, whereas an inclusive society tends toward sociability and interdependency between the able-bodied and disabled.
Disability Discrimination Laws
In many countries it is now against the law to discriminate against disabled people in various areas of their lives.
In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, a number of countries have passed laws aimed at reducing discrimination against people with disabilities. These laws have begun to appear as the notion of civil rights has become more influential globally, and follow other forms of anti-discrimination and equal opportunity legislation aimed at preventing racial discrimination and sexism which began to emerge in the second half of the 20th century.
The presumption that everyone is non-disabled is said to encourage environments that are inaccessible to disabled people. It is a system by which mainstream society denigrates, devalues, and thus oppresses those with disabilities, while privileging those without disabilities, according to those who describe ableist circumstances.
For example, it is against the law to discriminate against disabled people at work, and when providing goods, facilities and services. There is also protection against discrimination for disabled people who are renting or buying property, and in education.
The law also protects people from discrimination based on their relationship with a person with a disability (even if they do not themselves have a disability). For example, it is illegal to discriminate against an employee because her husband has a disability.
Disability Discrimination at Work:
It is against the law for an employer:
- to harass you if you are disabled, for example, by making jokes about your disability
- not to make reasonable adjustments to the workplace to enable you to work or to continue to work.
- to treat you less favourably because of your disability – including recruitment and selection, terms and conditions, dismissal and redundancy.
- to discriminate directly against you if you are disabled or because you are associated with someone who is disabled, for example, your partner or child.
- to victimise you if you take legal action because of discrimination against you, or if you help someone else to take legal action because of discrimination.
Employers can treat disabled people less favourably only if they have a sufficiently justifiable reason for doing so, and only if the problem cannot be overcome by making ‘reasonable adjustments’. For example, an employer would be justified in rejecting someone with severe back pain for a job as a carpet fitter, as they cannot carry out the essential requirements of the job.
Examples of the types of adjustments that an employer might make include:
- making physical adjustments to the premises
- transferring you to a different post or work place
- supplying special equipment to help you do your job
- altering your hours of work or giving you extra time off.
List of Disability Discrimination Acts
- Australia – Australian Disability Discrimination Act 1992
- Pakistan – National Policy for Persons with Disablilities 2002
- United States of America – Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
- Canada – Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2002) (only in Ontario, no other province has disability protection)
- United Kingdom -UK Disability Discrimination Act 1995 DDA (which has been extended and amended by a number of enactments including the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001, and the Disability Discrimination Act 2005)