Fighting ableism (prejudice against those with disabilities) has always been very important to me, since I have a mild form of cerebral palsy. When I worked in the scientific laboratory, I encountered ableism on a regular basis. “Walk faster! Don’t lag behind!” “Your handwriting is too messy!” “You need to learn to operate that device–I’m not going to hold your hand!” (I will refrain from saying the name of the place where the people who said such things will eventually end up.)
I often tried to explain to my bosses in the laboratory (the ones who didn’t understand) that I had mild cerebral palsy, but my words frequently fell on ears that were unwilling to hear.
Now that I am an editor, I try to fight ableism wherever and whenever I can in my work. The first thing I did was (actually recently) make the font on my website more legible.
The second thing I did was change my attitude toward poor writing. That means no more laughing silently at an author when he or she uses “your” in place of “you’re” or writes a run-on sentence or fragment. For all I know, the author may have struggled with writing in school or all during his or her life. And that has to hurt.
I have to be especially careful with ESL authors when I read their sometimes poor English writing. This means constantly reminding myself that the author’s English is much better than my Mandarin/Russian/Spanish/whichever is his or her native language. If that doesn’t humble an editor, what can?
What are your thoughts on ableism?