Module 4: Ableism and Accessibility
From the outset, this module was designed purposefully to initiate and deepen reflection about disability and the assumptions of ability/disability that guide everyday practices. With this in mind, the module described six models of disability clustered around two groupings. The first group comprises the charity, medical, and supercrip models that function at the individual level by emphasizing benevolence, impairment, or exceptional personal qualities. They also lean toward the medicalization of disability and a commitment to curative and rehabilitative services and institutionalized care. The second group comprises the social, rights-based and disability justice models that function at the societal level and emphasize constructions of rights, barriers, and intersectional identities. Proponents of these models, particularly the social and disability justice variants, trouble conventional ideas of ability/disability and ableism, and advocate for pluralizing spaces, including physical and social spaces. Therefore, modifications like curb cuts and the provision of assistive technologies and mobility devices are necessary but not sufficient. Equality and equity demands acknowledging the lived experience of persons with disabilities, and inclusion in decision-making as reflected in the motto, “no decision about us without us.”
Accessibility and EDI – A Synthesis
So, how do these models relate to equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) policies and practices? Recapping Module 1 of this book, diversity involves increasing the mix of different people but does not guarantee integration. Inclusion goes beyond compositional mix and is characterized by the participation of equity groups in decision-making. Equity involves the elimination of power inequalities, resources, and access among social groups. These concepts can form a bulwark against ableism. But they can also delimit transformation and even support exclusion, depending on how they are conceived and enacted. Some may lead to diversity, others may support social inclusion, while others aspire to transform social and economic relations between persons with and without disabilities.