Covid-19 and Ableism

Ableism and the ways disabled people are ignored and marginalised has been one of the hallmarks of our collective response to COVID-19.

Whether its people making fun of the NZSL interpreters working in the Prime Minister’s press conferences to an inconsistent response to getting PPE, to support workers and assumptions that everyone can use the backdoor of a bus. Most horrifyingly we’ve seen more ways that some people clearly consider disabled people and the elderly as disposable and people whose lives are not worth as much as others, whose lives are not worth the so-called economic costs of lockdown.

I recall in the aftermath of the Christchurch quakes a lot of well-intentioned words and hand-wringing about how we needed to learn the lessons of how negatively the response and recovery after the quakes impacted on disabled people. It’s not at all clear that those lessons have been learned. Non-disabled people have a lot more to do to get clear about how ableism operates and what we need to do to contribute to a non-disabling society.