Why the hashtag #AbleismTellsMe concerns everyone

Why the hashtag #AbleismTellsMe concerns everyone

People with disabilities use the hashtag #AbleismTellsMe to draw attention to discriminatory situations. Our symbol photo was taken in 2018.

© picture alliance / Carsten Rehde
People with disabilities use the hashtag #AbleismTellsMe to draw attention to discriminatory situations. Our symbol photo was taken in 2018.

Have you ever heard of “ableism”? This term denotes the discrimination against people with disabilities.

Ableism shows up, for example, when these people are treated unequally or viewed as inferior. Ableism can therefore be translated as “hostility towards the disabled”.

Ableism: An unknown term for an important topic

But ableism is not very common compared to racism or sexism. People with disabilities want to change this. And that’s why they tweet under the hashtag #AbleismTellsMe about anti-disability in everyday life. It all started with tweets from 23-year-old student Kayle Hill from the USA. Now the wave has spilled over to Germany.

The diagnosis came suddenly. How Nikos (23) from Cologne copes with his life as almost blind

In thousands of tweets, those affected tell of situations in which they felt discriminated against as a person with a disability or felt that they were not treated equally. This is how they want to make the public aware of their problems, opportunities and real needs.

People with disabilities are often wrongly underestimated

For example, many users tell of situations in which they were underestimated.

For example, some people have doubts that someone with a disability could be intellectually capable. For these people it is unimaginable that a person with a disability can study at a university and then find a job on the primary labor market.

And if a wheelchair user can show a doctorate, then this cannot be right for these people.

Others assume that people with disabilities will get a job anyway, because large companies would have to hire them. Only a few people know that they can buy their way out of this obligation by paying a certain contribution.

And some Vodafone employees could hardly believe that a blind person can also be self-employed.

A very sensitive topic: the relationship box

When it comes to relationships, there are two main points of view: Some think that people without disabilities are only together out of pity for someone with a disability.

And other people believe that people with disabilities can only be with someone with the same disability.

Often criticized: the behavior towards people with disabilities

However, what annoys people with disabilities the most is the behavior of non-disabled people towards them. This can be seen above all in the high number of tweets that are posted by those affected on this topic. One Twitter user describes that she was not allowed to touch her sister’s newborn child in the hospital because she was afraid that the child – like the Twitter user – could become disabled.

Michel Arriens, a well-known short-lived activist, complains that he doesn’t want to be called a dwarf or a gnome. Besides, it’s not okay to take selfies with him – not even for money.

But a wheelchair user does not want to be abused as a driving, free cloakroom, as Twitter user RunLola makes clear.

A widespread phenomenon is also that often only the person accompanying the person with a disability is addressed. The person with a disability is therefore not seen as an interlocutor on an equal footing. And if a person with a disability is on their own, you speak to the person right next to him or her, because people with a handicap are never alone.

The subject of accessibility has not yet arrived in many people’s minds and concepts, as some users criticize. So let other people think along about where to eat, stay overnight or have fun.

These tweets show that disability behavior is ubiquitous and worth promoting.


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