On April 7, 2020, Rooted in Rights published a piece entitled “In Our New Reality of Virtual Learning, We Can’t Leave Students with Disabilities Behind,” which we have since taken down from our website. Here is an explanation of why:
As multiple self-advocates with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) rightly pointed out to us, by publishing the piece, we explicitly promoted harmful, ableist patterns of how people with I/DD are all too often treated by society, including by people with other types of disabilities.
The piece was rooted in ableist concepts of “normal” behaviors and behavioral “regression,” as well as the use of segregated learning environments. Not only was this unacceptable, but further, segregated learning environments and concepts of what are considered “normal” behaviors should not exist at all.
Further, we did leave students with disabilities behind. Their experiences are their stories to tell. And by publishing a piece that not only didn’t include a range of viewpoints from students with disabilities about the challenges they’re experiencing with virtual learning, but instead came from and included sources involved in the world of these ableist practices, we erased the perspectives that matter most.
We take full responsibility and make no excuses for our role in contributing to these oppressive patterns of harm and exclusion. We understand that these issues are deeply entrenched in our mindsets and our systems, including within our small team at Rooted in Rights. We are committed to being part of the work to change this and while this doesn’t happen with one apology, we do sincerely apologize for adding to existing harm and causing hurt by publishing the post. We will be reevaluating our internal review processes and working on our editorial guidelines to ensure this does not happen again. Moving forward, we remain committed to not using our platform to support any harmful, ableist treatment of people with I/DD and to publish work that actively fights this harm.