Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Disability 101: Disability, Ableism, and AB/TAB

Hello, everyone! This blog has had a rather long hiatus for the past year or so, and since I am eager to start updating again, I have decided to start a "Disability 101" series of posts. My inspiration was piqued by the Finally Feminism 101 blog, which is brilliantly maintained by tigtog of Hoyden About Town. I hope that this series will answer some 101-ish questions about disability. My hope is that this will serve as a starting point for people (of all abilities) who wish to learn more about disability, chronic illnesses and health conditions, and the issues surrounding disability/CI/CHC terms, etiquette, and frequently-asked (and pontificated-upon) questions. (In case you're wondering who the hell I am and/or why I am taking on this project, my bio is located here.)

If you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments field; you may also contact me via my personal blog. Please be respectful and on-topic when commenting. I consider this a safe space for people with disabilities (PWD), people with chronic illnesses, and people with chronic health conditions, and the caliber of the comments must reflect this. Please also abide by the commenting guidelines outlined here (the link goes to my cartoon blog's comment policy, mostly because I do not have the energy to type out a whole new commenting guide). Linking to posts here is, of course, welcomed and encouraged.

Also, please keep in mind that I do not speak for *all* PWDs and folks with chronic illnesses or health conditions in this series. It is not intended as "the" guide to 101 questions on disability; my intent is to offer (pretty subjective) answers to common questions on disability, and of course, there will be folks who disagree.

Thanks, and enjoy!


What is “disability?”

The World Health Organization defines “disability” in the following way: “Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. An impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations.”

Additionally: “[D]isability is a complex phenomenon, reflecting an interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives.” [Source]

But aren’t we all disabled in some way?

No. This sort of "folk wisdom" implies, directly or indirectly, that mundane things—things that may be minor inconveniences (at least for some able-bodied people--those with whom this bit of "wisdom" seems to be most popular), but that are not fundamentally impairing or restrictive to one’s quality of life or participation in civic and/or private life—are disabling, when they are, in fact, not. Disability, additionally, is a term that refers to a long-term or lifelong condition.

What is “ableism?”

Ableism refers to discrimination, devaluation, misconceptions, stereotypes, and prejudice—conscious or unconscious—of and against people with disabilities, the chronically ill, and people with chronic health conditions. As a culturally-based structure that often intersects with other oppressive “isms,” systems of privilege, and “-phobias” (such as racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, white privilege, cisgendered privilege, class/economic privilege, and transphobia) ableism assumes that able-bodied people are the “norm” in society, and as a result, culture, various institutions, attitudes and social mores are formed in accordance with the needs of able-bodied people.

What is meant by the terms AB and TAB?

“AB” is an abbreviation for able-bodied; “TAB” is a slightly more to-the-point abbreviation meaning “Temporarily Able-Bodied.” TAB refers to the inevitable—namely, that most of us will face disability at some point in our lives; whether it comes sooner or later varies depending upon one’s circumstances.


Anonymous said...

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

robinbradford said...

Great post, thank you!

La eliminaciĆ³n de puntos negros said...

hello friend, I read your blog and I find it very important that you write for people with disabilities. I suffered a traffic accident and is invalid, job opportunities have been closed to me, people will discriminate one until now only count on the support of my family. My wife left me because he could no longer satisfy her sexually, try buy viagra, and it worked but she did not like. I think people with disabilities, chronic illness, we have the same rights and opportunities as others.