Did you ever have an experience where someone chooses to say something that you find offensive? What if you were the only person in the room who was offended? It happens to me all the time, and is usually related to some disability-related comment or attitude about what it would be like to have some additional challenge in life. I know the person making the comment doesn’t mean any harm to me personally, but I believe these instances of ableism are examples of how far we still need to go in terms of reaching true equality in society.
For the most part, ableism brings forth different meanings depending on who you ask to define it. A person with a disability will readily be able to give examples of times when they were discriminated against because of their disability. On the other hand, if you ask their parent to give an example, they might have other instances to share that are bigger than what the person with a disability mentions because the person who experiences the hurtful prejudice may find that it’s rarely one occurrence but rather, the sum of many over time that leave the lasting memory.
Even more disparate might be the understanding of ableism by your average American. They might totally blow off that there is pervasive discrimination against people with disabilities or worse, they might not care because they value the lives of able-bodied people more.