Monday, December 15, 2008

New online multimedia presentation on handicapism

The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities recently posted a slide show called Handicapism: A Report from the Center on Human Policy. The presentation (used by permission) contains over 150 slides and is accompanied by narration and captioning.

It's an excellent overview of the concept. In the cartoon, a wheelchair user works to make his inaccessible work space accessible with a hammer and chisel.

The DD Council explains why handicapism causes pity and mistreatment of people with disabilities in society:

Most agree that there is still much work to do. In your professional and personal communities, for example, have you ever heard comments such as these about persons with a disability? –

“He has qualities which compensate for his disability.”

“She may not be able to do much, but she has a heart of gold.”

“They want to be with their own kind.”

The above are examples of what has been called handicapism, which promotes unequal and unjust treatment of people because of apparent or assumed physical or mental disability. It is a concept first developed in the 1970s, and is similar to racism or sexism.

Handicapism assumes that people with disabilities are dependent regardless of whether they are or not and irrespective of their potential to live independent lives.