The Invisible Disability Project is making it easier to call out ableism

Do you ever find yourself explaining ‘ableism’ to a friend or colleague for what feels like the hundredth time? Every individual should be familiar with the term, yet unfortunately people with disabilities are often tasked with the burden of repeatedly explaining ableism and the harmful impact ableist actions can have.

The disability rights community commonly defines ableism as discrimination towards people with disabilities, often based in the assumption that able-bodies are the norm. Ableism is often present in our language, culture, laws, and social constructs. It is a form of prejudice that many in the disability community are intimately familiar with.

Now, the Invisible Disability Project is offering an easier way to simply and quickly call out ableist bias. The Invisible Disability Project defines itself as “a social/cultural movement and an educational media project that consciously disrupts ‘invisibility’ imposed upon unseen impairments at the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality.” Their solution? A printable card (available for download online) that explains ableism, and why the actions of the individual receiving the card might have been ableist. The card is intended for those with invisible disabilities, but can be easily modified to apply to ableist remarks about visible disabilities as well. The card states:

“Dear Friend,

That thing you just did — that was ableism.

I am sure you did not realize this when you made/laughed at/agreed with that ableist remark, or behaved in that ableist manner. Like racism, sexism, and elitism, ableism is a cultural bias that impacts disabled peoples’ everyday lives. For example, being called a “retard”, “lame”, or “crazy” is offensive to people like me and my friends. Instead, we need safe and accessible spaces in the absence of ableist assumptions for those with no seemingly obvious disability, like mobility, hearing, visual, or affective impairment or chronic illness. I can’t always alert or educate people about my non-visible disability. If I do, it is often considered malingering or controlling, so, instead, I distribute these calling cards to signal when ableist remarks/behaviors arise.”

Explaining ableism to those around you just got simpler! Would you use the Ableism card?

Emily Pate is a third-year student at Seattle University interested in Strategic Communications, learning Spanish, and working with non-profits. Her work for Rooted In Rights is focused on discussing current events in the community of people with disabilities. Her experience previous to Rooted In Rights includes writing broadcasts for KBOO radio in Portland, OR, and managing a neighborhood blog in the Seattle community. In addition to work, Emily enjoys drawing, spending time with her friends and family, and backpacking.