Understanding and Challenging Ableism

Ability, Disability & Ableism
Bias, Discrimination & Hate
Below the Knee Amputee Sgt. Jerrod Fields

Photographer Tim Hipps, U.S. Army

Grade Level:
Middle School,
High School
Common Core Standards:
Reading, Speaking and Listening, Language
Ability, Disability & Ableism
Bias, Discrimination & Hate

Nearly one in five (19%) people in the United States are living with a disability. Disabilities can be physical or cognitive, visible or invisible, severe or minor. Ableism, which is bias or discrimination against people with disabilities, can take many forms, including: employment, housing and other institutional discrimination; lack of accessibility on streets, buildings and public transportation; stereotyping and ableist language, lack of media portrayals or stereotyped depictions of people with disabilities; bullying; low expectations, isolation and pity. While ableism is not often discussed when we talk about our identities and bias, it is important that students understand and reflect on examples of ableism in their own lives and in society because it contributes to a culture of intolerance and injustice.

This lesson provides an opportunity for students to understand what ableism is and the many ways it manifests, reflect on specific examples of ableism and categorize them, and consider ways they can be allies and take actions to confront and challenge ableism.

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