Saturday, November 14, 2015

Internalized Ableism

I remember reading about a study once in which researchers offered both black and white dolls to both black and white children.  Both the black children and the white children preferred the white doll.  That is telling, right?

Well, people with disabilities internalize ableism, too.  They internalize prejudice and sometimes discriminate against others with disabilities.  Also, they sometimes cooperate with people that want to discriminate against them.


In the last few weeks, I have had discussions with:
  • Two different EMT's, both of whom are disabled and have service dogs, that believe service dogs should not be allowed in ambulances.  One went so far as to say she would refuse to transport a service dog in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Another service dog  handler, not an EMT, who also thinks service dogs should not be allowed in ambulances.  She informed me I would be risking my life if I insisted on taking my service dog with me in an ambulance and said she thought the paramedics should refuse to transport my dog.  Besides risking my life, I would be inconveniencing the paramedics, who would have to disinfect the ambulance after transporting my dog.
  • Someone with 12 years of experience working in an emergency room, who is himself disabled with a service dog, who said people should not bring their service dogs to the ER.  He said it was just "common sense."
  • Another service dog handler who said a group of five friends, all of whom have service dogs, should not have gone to eat in a restaurant together with their service dogs.  A group of disabled people with service dogs is too noticeable and might intimidate some people.  Plus, that much dog hair would be a health hazard.  Later, she said a regular restaurant would be OK but not a buffet, because of the dog hair.
The U.S. Department of Justice has clearly said that people can take their service dogs in ambulances, to emergency rooms and to restaurants, including buffets.   Now, if someone feels it is risky to take her service dog in an ambulance, or doesn't want to inconvenience the paramedics by making them disinfect an ambulance that has been exposed to dog hair (they must clean the ambulances anyway, right?  I sure hope so!), or doesn't want to take his service dog to the ER, or is uncomfortable being noticed in a restaurant or prefers not to dine out with other disabled friends - well, they are not required to do so.

But does it surprise you that these people, who have disabilities and service dogs, hold these beliefs and argue vehemently against the rights of fellow service dog handlers?  It surprised me.  This is internalized ableism.

1 comment:

  1. Funny you should mention this... I had a situation today in which I had to leave a bank because someone with their own service dog was afraid of mine!