Unlike racism or sexism, you won’t find the word disablism in the dictionary. Yet ask any disabled person whether it has resonance for them and the word quickly takes on meaning.
This Demos pamphlet starts from the lived experiences of disabled people. Based on a series of interviews with disabled individuals and representatives of government departments and disability organisations, it argues that the current legislation-dominated approach to bringing about positive social change is only a start on the journey to eradicating the subtle – but sometimes life-destroying – impact of disablism.
For too long debates have started from the basis of what disabled people can’t do rather than what they can do, often much better than nondisabled people.
Rather than trying to solve inequalities one by one, Disablism makes the case for a different approach to achieving change. It recommends a strategy that does not always look to the courts or the government to make a difference. In order to eradicate discrimination, we need instead to understand how positive change emerges in society on multiple levels, at different speeds and involving different people. The challenge is to choreograph these components of change to ensure that they deliver a cumulative impact.
This pamphlet argues that trading zones – new models of collaborative participation between existing institutions – could accelerate the pace of change by bringing together diverse groups of people on an equal basis to challenge disablism, the prejudice with no name.
This project was funded by Scope and conducted in partnership with Disability Awareness in Action.