Let’s talk about… ableism

Posted: 05/09/22

A northeast disability trust is speaking out about ableism, which is a form of discrimination based on the idea that disabled people are valued less by society.

Following on from Disability Pride Month in July, staff from the Disabled Staff Network at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), a provider of mental health and disability services led a campaign throughout August to increase disability awareness.

Ableist attitudes are often unintentional, and most people are completely unaware of their words or actions, mainly because people learn such behaviours and thoughts over a period time from others, so an awareness campaign was launched with the aim of changing attitudes and stigma towards disabled people.

Each week in August information was shared both inside and outside of the organisation educating people on the different types of ableism, microaggressions and what we can all do to make a change. One of the biggest problems in combatting disability discrimination is the use of wrong or outdated terminology.

Being conscientious with your language and holding those around you accountable to do the same is a good way to make disabled people feel less dehumanised and devalued. It is hoped that the campaign would be a catalyst to start a conversation on what we can all do to make a change.

Every disabled person won’t have the same experience or ideas. A lot of disabled people are working to reclaim the word ‘disabled’ to prove that it is not something negative or to be avoided. Preferences for people with disabilities can only be determined by speaking directly with the people who they affect. Disabled people should have the loudest voice in discussing disabilities, so the more people you speak to, the better.

CNTW’s Disabled Staff Network aims to create a fair and diverse workplace. The network actively engages and contributes towards ensuring equality, acceptance and inclusion within the organisation.

The network aims to promote a work environment in which all staff feel supported, valued and able to be themselves. They work to challenge discrimination and positively promote equality for staff and service users.