Ableism (//; also known as ablism, disablism (British English), anapirophobia, anapirism, and disability discrimination) is discrimination and social prejudice against people with disabilities and/or people who are perceived to be disabled. Ableism characterizes people who are defined by their disabilities as inferior to the non-disabled. On this basis, people are assigned or denied certain perceived abilities, skills, or character orientations.
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Although ableism and disablism are both terms which describe disability discrimination, the emphasis for each of these terms is slightly different. Ableism is discrimination in favor of non-disabled people. Disablism is discrimination against disabled people.
There are stereotypes which are either associated with disability in general, or they are associated with specific disabilities (for instance the presumption that all disabled people want to be cured, the presumption that wheelchair users also have an intellectual disability, or the presumption that blind people have some special form of insight). These stereotypes, in turn, serve as a justification for discriminatory practices, and reinforce discriminatory attitudes and behaviors toward people who are disabled. Labeling affects people when it limits their options for action or changes their identity.
In ableist societies, disabled people are considered less valuable, or they are even seen as expendable. The eugenics movement of the early 20th century is considered an expression of widespread ableism.
Ableism can also be better understood by reading literature which is written and published by those who experience disability and ableism first-hand. Disability studies is an academic discipline which is also beneficial when non-disabled people pursue it in order to gain a better understanding of ableism.