Intersectionality in Disability


In our society today, people with disabilities can experience oppression in a multitude of ways. Whether a person has mobility disabilities, medical disabilities, learning disabilities, or visual impairments, these individuals can experience oppression as a result of their disabilities. When people oppress folks with disabilities, there may be various misconceptions they may have about that person’s lived experience. Oppression may be a result of a systemic problem that is illustrated through the individual level.


The people judging those living with disabilities may believe they are a liability to society that they are defective, or maybe it scares people that they are different. There are also many institutional barriers such as what are people taught in schools, laws and policies against people with disabilities, etc. This would be known as ableism. This sort of oppressive and discriminatory thinking has been around for many, many years. If you look back at the 19th century, people with disabilities lived at home and were only cared for by their families. Their life expectancies were not even close to how they are in today’s standards.


The attitude towards people with disabilities started to change in the 60’s and 70’s. Prior to the 60’s and 70’s, attitudes towards people with disabilities were negative. Disabled people were seen as incapable of contributing or participating in society. This began with the president John F Kennedy. He established a presidential panel that stated mental disabilities were not a despondent condition and that it could be improved. Another president to improve the situation of people with disabilities was president Richard Nixon.


Nixon had a goal of moving 30% of the nation’s 200 000 institutionalized people with mental disabilities into supportive community living. Although this may seem as it doesn’t affect many people, president Nixon’s plan increased the image of people with mental disabilities by a handful. I say this because if a president wants to fix something, that is really saying a lot. Also, in the year 1975, the Act for all children with disabilities could get education got passed. Before, children with a disability didn’t get the opportunity to be educated. This was a big law that was absolutely amazing for children with disabilities!


Nowadays, there is more support for people with disabilities and in our university, some supports for people with disabilities include the (SAS) system. SAS stands for Student Accessibility Services. This program is great for students with disabilities as it minimizes barriers in learning and there are many strategies and tools to help students out.


If you ever experience someone with any sort of disability getting bullied, please stand up to this. This may affect the person’s life who’s getting bullied in a great way. Another way to help out is staying informed, for example structural barriers. Like buildings that that don’t have accessible entrances for people that are unable to walk or are in wheelchairs. Also, as a society we should stay informed that not all disabilities can be seen. These disabilities are like mental health, chronic illnesses, learning disabilities, etc. If we as a society can stay informed and remember to treat others how we would want to be treated, this world will become a better place.