The use of language that can be considered ableist is widespread in our society. An article on HBR explores the use of Ableism in our language and why we should consider the language we use.
Try this thought experiment: You’re sitting at your desk, when your friend texts you an article about a topic you’re passionate about. You read it and ask her what she thinks. To your surprise, her opinion is the complete opposite of your own. This obviously upsets you. Later that evening, as you explain what happened to your partner, how do you describe your friend’s point of view?
If you said it was “stupid,” “insane,” “crazy,” “lame,” or “dumb,” you have (unknowingly or not) participated in spreading ableist language.
You may be surprised to learn that your response was a form of discrimination. People use ableist words and phrases everyday without realizing the harm they do.
Ableism is defined as discrimination or social prejudice against people with disabilities based on the belief that typical abilities are superior. It can manifest as an attitude, stereotype, or an outright offensive comment or behavior. When it comes to language, ableism often shows up as metaphors (“My boyfriend is emotionally crippled.”), jokes (“That comedian was hysterical!”), and euphemisms (“He is differently abled.”) in conversation.