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Persons with Disabilities Resources: Ableism

This guide is an introduction to concepts and a gateway to resources around disability information, supports, legislation and rights. It was developed in consultation with members of the disability community and NSCC staff who work closely with them.

What is Ableism?

Ableism is the discrimination of and social prejudice against people with disabilities based on the belief that typical abilities are superior. At its heart, ableism is rooted in the assumption that disabled people require ‘fixing’ and defines people by their disability. Like racism and sexism, ableism classifies entire groups of people as ‘less than,’ and includes harmful stereotypes, misconceptions, and generalizations of people with disabilities. (Source: Olson, E. (2019, December 12). Ableism 101: What it is, what it looks like, and what we can do to to fix it


In this TEDx Talk, Naty Rico shares her story of struggles over the past 3 years at UCIrvine and the hopes she has for the future.

TEDx Talks. (2015, July 6). Overcoming ableism: What you don't know as an able bodied person [Video]. YouTube.


"Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership. In many cases, these hidden messages may invalidate the group identity or experiential reality of target persons, demean them on a personal or group level, communicate they are lesser human beings, suggest they do not belong with the majority group, threaten and intimidate, or relegate them to inferior status and treatment."  (Source: Derald Wing Sue, “Microaggressions: More than Just Race,” Psychology Today, November 17, 2010)


Pamela Rae Schuller and other persons with disabilities share, in a humorous way, 5 microaggressive behaviors able bodied people often do.

BuzzFeedVideo. (2018, May 30). Things people with disabilities wish you knew [Video]. YouTube.

Inspiration Porn

Inspiration porn describes society’s tendency to reduce people with disabilities down to objects of inspiration. This is most often displayed through images, videos, or feel-good articles that sensationalize people with disabilities.


TED talk - Stella Young is a comedian and journalist who happens to go about her day in a wheelchair — a fact that doesn't, she'd like to make clear, automatically turn her into a noble inspiration to all humanity. In this very funny talk, Young breaks down society's habit of turning disabled people into "inspiration porn."

Books - Ableism

eBook - Ableism: the Causes and Consequences of Disability Prejudice

This comprehensive volume examines new manifestations of ableism, summarizes the state of research on disability prejudice, and explores real-world personal accounts and interventions to illustrate the various forms and impacts of ableism.

eBook - Ableism in Academia: Theorising experiences of disabilities and chronic illnesses in higher education

This book provides theory and conceptualisation, theorisation and also personal interpretation of ableism in academia. Academic and non-academic staff members, as well as students will benefit from the combination of theory and experiences. The debates around ableism, equality, disabilities and inclusion are meeting the current trend within academia, and this book then offers a wide range of readings.