März 27, 2023Keine Kommentare

Stepping Stones to Inclusion: #endableism

Which concrete steps can we take towards a more equitable society? We’ve already enquired about a lot of opportunities to make this world a better place in our previous posts. Still, especially ableism continues to be a major threshold on the many stepping stones to inclusion. Supported by concrete examples, we will explore how to end ableism and create an environment of acceptance and understanding: for a more inclusive world. Let’s find out about the tools we can use to #endableism!

First things first: What is ableism?

Ableism is a form of discrimination and prejudice against people with disabilities. It is based on the belief that people with disabilities are inferior to individuals without disabilities. Ableism is a systemic and societal issue that manifests in various forms. This includes physical, emotional and social barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating fully in society.

Here are some examples for ableism:

Physical barriers

Physical barriers are obstacles that prevent people with disabilities from accessing public spaces, buildings and transportation. Examples of physical barriers include stairs without ramps, narrow doorways and the lack of accessible parking spaces.


Stereotyping is a common form of ableism. It involves making assumptions about individuals with disabilities based on their physical or mental abilities. For example, assuming that all individuals with disabilities are unable to work or to live independently.

Language and ableism

Ableist language involves using derogatory terms or slurs to describe individuals with disabilities. This includes using the words "retarded" or "crippled" to refer to someone with a disability.

Employment discrimination

Employment discrimination involves denying individuals with disabilities equal opportunities for employment and/or advancement in the workplace. Refusing to hire someone with a disability or failing to provide reasonable accommodations are examples of employment discrimination.

Social exclusion

Excluding individuals with disabilities from social activities and events is a form of ableism. Not inviting someone with a disability to a party because of their disability or not providing accessible seating at events are examples for social exclusion.

The prevalence of ableism and its impact on marginalized groups

Ableism has a significant impact on marginalized groups - specifically individuals with disabilities, their loved ones and supporters. Exclusion from social activities and events can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. This is very likely to have a negative impact on self-esteem and mental health. As a result of ableism, studies have shown that people with diabilities are three times more likely to experience depression in comparison. They are also inclined to experience higher levels of anxiety.

Consequently, limited mobility and a lack of independence impact the quality of a person’s life. Individuals with disabilities are often denied equal opportunities for employment, education, healthcare and transportation. This is causing people with disabilities economic insecurity and limited access to essential services and public spaces.

Negative stereotypes and attitudes towards individuals with disabilities lead to stigma. Empirical data proves that people with disabilities may endure severe mental health issues because of how society treats them. Since people with disabilities may be perceived as vulnerable and easy targets, violence and abuse can cause severe physical and emotional harm.

As we’ve learned, ableism is an overly prevalent form of discrimination that affects people with disabilities. Yet all too often, ableism can be either overlooked or ignored. Ableism is an insidious form of prejudice that can lead to exclusion of marginalized groups from society. To create an inclusive society, it is therefore essential to put an end to ableism.

Strategies for ending ableism and promoting inclusion

One of the best strategies for addressing ableism and promoting inclusion is to create a culture of respect and understanding. This helps to make everyone feel appreciated and accepted regardless of ability level. Respectful communication, active listening and open-mindedness are essential in creating an environment that is free from ableism.

These tools can help to access a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by those with disabilities and promote inclusion:

Education and awareness

One of the most effective strategies for ending ableism is education and awareness. This involves educating people about the experiences of individuals with disabilities, the barriers they face and the impact of ableism on their lives. Helpful measures are workshops, training sessions, and awareness campaigns.

Reasonable accommodation

Providing reasonable accommodations is another strategy for promoting inclusion. Making changes to the physical environment, policies and practices helps to ensure that individuals with disabilities can fully participate in society. Examples of such accommodations include wheelchair ramps, sign language interpreters and flexible work arrangements.

Inclusive language

Using inclusive language that does not stereotype or stigmatize individuals with disabilities is a necessity. Person-first language (such as "person with a disability" instead of "disabled person") and avoiding derogatory terms or slurs are good examples for ending ableism.

Advocacy and activism

Advocacy and activism involve speaking out against ableism. Take a stand for policies and practices that promote inclusion and accessibility! It also involves supporting organizations and initiatives that work towards these goals.

Creating inclusive workplaces

Actively seeking out and hiring individuals with disabilities as well as providing people with disabilities with equal opportunities for advancement and creating a culture of inclusivity in the workplace is another strategy for ending ableism. A more inclusive workplace that values and includes people with disabilities can also have significant economic benefits. Tapping into the skills and talents of people with disabilities rewards us with more productive and prosperous businesses in return.

Implementing these strategies is supporting our growth towards a more inclusive and equitable society free of ableism.

Corporate social responsibility and the role of businesses in ending ableism

Businesses have a unique opportunity to make a lasting, meaningful change when it comes to ending ableism. The most successful companies actively strive to create a culture of acceptance and understanding. They do this by investing in programs that promote diversity and inclusion.

A few examples of such programs are the use of “inclusion riders” in the hiring process. This requires that of people with diverse backgrounds and experiences come together to form teams. Supporting organizations dedicated to the promotion of diversity and inclusion in their industry or community is another opportunity. Using a company’s platforms to advocate for reducing ableism and discrimination can also be a powerful resource.

Additionally, businesses can also lead the way by being good corporate citizens. Set an example that other businesses can follow! It is essential for companies to focus on creating a culture of inclusion and respect for all by taking meaningful action to promote diversity and inclusion in their workforce, supply chain and customer service.

By doing so, companies help to make a real difference in the lives of people with disabilities. Ultimately, businesses possess the power to have a lasting impact in their communities as much as the world at large by leading the way in inclusion efforts and making a commitment to end ableism.

How can individuals contribute to ending ableism?

It is important to remember that everyone's contributions to ending ableism and promoting inclusion can make a difference. Small actions such as speaking out against ableism and promoting inclusion in everyday conversations with friends, family, co-workers and on social media can set the foundation for a more inclusive world.

Further, advocating for causes that promote inclusion and challenging systemic oppression can create lasting change. Additionally, individuals can support organizations and initiatives that promote inclusion. Another possibility to help is volunteering for organizations that serve individuals with disabilities.

Finally, developing relationships with individuals with disabilities, listening to their stories, and understanding their needs are all essential stepping stones to inclusion. One powerful way to support people with disabilities, for example, is the app BeMyEyes: it connects people needing sighted support with volunteers and companies through live video around the world.

In conclusion, we must recognize and challenge the ableism that still exists today. Shaping a world where everyone is accepted and celebrated requires us to act! With dedication and commitment to promoting inclusion, we can create a more inclusive world. Let’s all work together to break down the barriers of discrimination and promote inclusion – let’s #endableism!

Written by Dana Meichsner

Januar 30, 2023Keine Kommentare

Stepping Stones to Inclusion: Reframing Disability

People with disabilities are often seen as a burden to society and may be viewed as people who can't contribute. They are said to only take away from the resources others could make better use of. This negative view of disability is not only harmful to people who live with disabilities. It also creates even more barriers that prevent people with disabilities from fully participating in society. Therefore, reframing disability is an essential stepping stone to inclusion.

Creating a new narrative around disability

To create an inclusive environment where all people can contribute their unique perspectives, we can consequently begin by reframing our view of disability. All in all, it's quite simple to use more empowering and inclusive language.

Let’s look at a few examples!

  • Instead of using phrases like “suffering from disability”, which includes (frankly quite poor) judgement, we may just say “has a disability”.
  • Let’s not talk about a person being “tied to their wheelchair”. We want to emphasize the personal freedom and independence all assistive technology provides to people - and consequently, just call it “using a wheelchair” or “driving a wheelchair”.
  • We’ve already written about accessibility in our last blog post: a wheelchair is not keeping its driver from entering a building. It's the building that does not provide sufficient accessibility.
  • Also, we may not want to talk about having a “blind spot” anymore. Instead, we can say that there may be a “gap in our perception”.

You get the picture: an important step to reframing disability is reflecting on the language we’re using. In turn, the perception of language also has a powerful influence on people’s views.

The importance of role models

Simultaneously, let’s raise awareness for the importance of role models who embrace their differences! Role models show others how they can be successful with disabilities. They are inspirational figures exemplary for people with disabilities. Role models help to feel accepted and included in society.

There are a lot of role models out there to follow - it's beneficial to get their perspective first-hand in their won words. Why don't you start with our brand ambassadors Saskia and Brook?

Both Saskia and Brook are strong advocates of their communities. They're leading interesting, inspirational lives with lots of powerful stories to share.

Disability and representation

Representation is a powerful tool to reframe our views on disability. Showing people with disabilities in a realistic, positive light - whether it's through media, art, or simply by having more visible representation in everyday life - can help change the way people think about disability.

Fun examples for representation can be found in the book “Reframing Disability in Manga” by Yoshiko Okuyama. The author analyzes popular Japanese manga published from the 90s to the present that portray the everyday lives of adults and children with disabilities in an ableist society.

Reframing disability through education

Another way to help reframe the way society views disability is through education. For one thing, it's important for people to understand that disabilities are not always visible. And likewise, that just because someone doesn't "look disabled", doesn't mean they aren't. It's also important to learn about the various types of disabilities and how they can impact a person's life.

The Disability Center of UA Little Rock is a great example for available resources on reframing disability. They help people to see disability less as a burden or limitation, but rather as an opportunity for growth, learning and adapting differently.

Obstacles and opportunities

By reframing our view of disability from one that sees disability as an obstacle to one that embraces differences and celebrates diversity, we can create a more inclusive future for everyone in our society. As we’ve learned, there are many ways each of us can help to reframe the way society views disability.

“The most interesting people you'll find are ones that don't fit into your average cardboard box. They'll make what they need, they'll make their own boxes.”

- Dr. Temple Grandin, American academic and animal behaviorist with autism

Obviously, improving understanding, communication, education and visibility around people with disabilities can help to create a more inclusive world for everyone. Consequently, telling the story of people with disabilities in an inclusive, empowering and beneficial way requires us to look at the potential benefits that also come along with disability rather than focusing solely on the downsides and limitations.

In general, society has been viewing disability through a lens of pity for far too long. It's time to reframe the way we think about disability. One of the best ways to do that is through inclusion. Inclusion doesn't just benefit those with disabilities. Inclusion benefits everyone.

By including people with disabilities in all aspects of life, we create a more tolerant, understanding world for everyone. We also open new possibilities and perspectives that can be transformative for us all.

Written by Dana Meichsner

Coming up…

In our next blog post we’ll take a closer look at ending ableism. Stay in the know on the latest blog posts - subscribe now to our munevo newsletter. We won't spam or annoy you, promise.

Dezember 7, 2022Keine Kommentare

Stepping Stones to Inclusion: Accessibility

In our last post, we have highlighted the important role assistive technology plays in empowering people with disabilities to live independently and participate in all areas of society. Just recently, Apple released an amazing video with lots of examples on how assistive technology we all know (and use) is consequently integrated to support the lives of people with disabilities. We get a glimpse of how environments can be designed to support and provide accessibility.

Accessibility is livability

All of us are differently abled. Still, there are universal necessities: the quality of being reached and being able to enter, of being easy to use and obtain, of being easily understood and appreciated. Originally, accessibility mainly referred to a barrier-free design of buildings and other, rather static measures. Today, accessibility is all about fulfilling the needs and wants of all people to provide quality, safety and livability.

"Everybody should be able to decide freely when to eat what, when to go to bed and how to live. People with disabilities have the same right to live in a nice apartment as people without disability."

Raul Krauthausen, author and disability rights activist

Krauthausen makes it very clear: whilst society and individuals generally strive to fulfill the needs of people with disabilities, their right to self-determination is often bluntly ignored – even with the best intentions. Requiring support and assistance for independent living does not equal to assuming dominion over every aspect of a specially abled person’s life. It is everybody’s responsibility to cater to the needs of people with disabilities: at an individual’s very own terms. Communication, negotiation and respect are the keys to inclusion. True empowerment lies in the freedom to make life choices and follow through with them. It is our responsibility as a society and as individuals to facilitate this empowerment.

How do we achieve accessibility?

A wide range of measures comes to mind: structural measures include, for example, tactile floor indicators with grooves and knobs as a guidance system for non-seeing and otherwise visually impaired people. Software like screen readers provides accessibility by converting information displayed on the screen into speech output and Braille, or special magnification programs. A combination of structural measures and hardware aids is, for example, an inductive hearing system in which a microphone signal – for example of a speaker in a lecture hall – can be forwarded to the hearing aids of the people in the room. We have wheelchair ramps included in most public buildings. A wheelchair itself is an assistive technology providing enhanced accessibility. Not less - and not more.

"One week ago, someone talked about me as "the wheelchair". I am not just my medical device. I am not just "the wheelchair" or “the disabled”! I am a human, a person, a woman, a sister, a friend, a daughter and so much more... Everyone is unique and being different should be normal. Don't forget that!"

Saskia Melches, disability rights activist

In public spaces, state laws prescribe a supportive infrastructure that facilitates accessibility. Still, all of us know what it is like to be stuck at a sidewalk curb, not being able to cross the street because cars are blocking our way where they are not supposed to be parking. All of us know what it means to face broken elevators and escalators or to find ourselves at a long staircase with no way around it. We are all aware of what it means not to be able to open a door because we may lack the necessary means to do so - because we carry something, for example, or we do not have command over our hands due to illness or other physical conditions. A few examples already suffice to illustrate that, whilst we all have different resources to deal with the lack of accessibility, it still concerns each of us. Essentially, this also means that we all can profit from enhanced accessibility.

Accessibility includes accessibility of online content

Of course, the first hurdle to access online content is owning a connected device and being able to operate it accordingly. This given, accessibility on the internet means that people with disabilities can use an online offer as easily and independently as possible. For accessible web design, basic technical aspects such as different web browser versions, operating systems or screen sizes of devices must be considered. In addition, the content of a website should be findable and usable for everybody.

Barrier-free web design must also consider that people with disabilities could be unable to see or hear the content poorly or not at all - or may otherwise be cognitively and/or motorically impaired. Easy language (often also called plain language) is one possibility to facilitate accessibility. Technical aids may be necessary to use a website. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has created a standard: the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide orientation on the various requirements for barrier-free websites. The WCAG are continuously updated and currently in their third iteration phase.

Accessible web design is a necessity, but still not as widely implemented as it should be – often due to a lack of awareness and/or effort. But the real magic happens when both elements come together: barrier-free design of the environment and accessible web design. Google just recently showed a great example of how to connect the respective advantages. They rolled out more AR and accessibility-focused features in Google Maps.

Let’s shape the future together!

We can conclude that efforts and (especially technical) progress are already there. Still, for many of us who struggle with accessibility issues, necessary measures are taking way too long to implement due to the lack of awareness for people’s needs. There is a lot of room for significant improvements. Environments of any kind must be shaped to include all people as soon as possible. Let's make a difference - together!

Written by Dana Meichsner