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Disablism and ableism

Disablism and ableism are words that are used to describe disability discrimination and prejudice. A bit like sexism and racism are used to describe discrimination against men or women and different ethnic groups.

Definitions

Disablism

Disablism is discrimination or prejudice against disabled people. 

“An organisation has a problem with disablism”.

“A disablist attitude”.

Ableism

Ableism is discrimination in favour of non-disabled people.

“An organisation has a problem with ableism”.

“An ableist attitude”.

The difference between disablism and ableism

Both terms describe disability discrimination, but the emphasis is different. 

Disablism emphasises discrimination against disabled people.

Ableism emphasises discrimination in favour of non-disabled people.

Should I say disablism or ableism?

Different people prefer to use one or other term. Or it might depend on which aspect of discrimination you want to emphasise.

Neither is considered wrong and they can be used interchangeably. 

Talking about disability

Examples

Discrimination can take many forms. Here are some examples:

  • no ramp to help a wheelchair user get on to a train
  • having steps instead of a ramp to access a shop
  • making assumptions about what a disabled person can or cannot do
  • not making reasonable adjustments at work

Advice and support

Find out more about disability discrimination at work, in rented housing, in public and private services and when claiming benefits.

Disability discrimination

If you experience disability hate crime, there are several ways you can report it.

Recognising and reporting disability hate crime

Or speak to others and share experiences on the Scope community.

Join our online community.

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