Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Chronic Ablism pervaisive throughout Net, Law and Bussiness

Not a study, not an article. Just a blatently obvious fact anyone with an ounce of imagination can realise. So routine is it that even us who often suffer it really don't realise exactly how pervasive and unjust it is.

It's at the deepest fundamental levels.

Shall I start with the signiature? How often do we use our signiature? A piece of hand-art intended to be regularly repeated as well as unique to the individual.

Now imagine what thats like for someone whose hand is not always steady! Or whose muscle-memory can be every bit as interferred with as their short-term or long-term memory. Or who suffers sudden muscle spasms or twitches or whose coordination is irregular. And those are just the ones I've experienced personally! Imagine the embarassment when trying to pick up a parcel from the post office and having your own signiature not match!

Ah but the world is going increasingly electronic blah blah blah.
That is not helping!

Consider all the rules one must obey in nettiquette. the differing rules from forum to forum, keeping up with changes of rules... imagine what that is like for those with memory issues, dyslexia and other reading difficulties, cognitive difficulties.

Again this is something I experience myself when my CFS 'brain fog' cognitive impairment is at it's stronger levels and i really have to struggle through some things.

Consider that criticising people on their spelling is considered quite acceptable on much of the net. How repugnant is that really? It is patently ablist privilege. Oh sure there are 'spell-checkers', largely culturally-biased constantly trying to change my S's to Z's because American English is different to Australian English! And it's not my fault many spell checkers have vastly lower vocabularies than I.

Nope, criticising spelling, grammer etc is nothing more than ablist bigotry pure and simple!

But the net is full of so very much more than that. I've been on several forums where breaking of some rules occurs frequently enough that people get auto-bans for it. Not behaviour like flaming mind but mistakes like posting in the wrong section. Seems reasonable if it's a constant problem doesn't it... or does it? Why is the problem reccurring? No-one asks that, it is just assumed that some people are stupid or bloody-minded.... wow... consider the bigotry and stupidity in those assumptions!

Stupid? Like people with lower IQs don't deserve access to forums and the internet? Bigotry, pure and simple. Bloody minded? What kind of ignorance is involved in that assumption! A purely rational person will have a purely rational reason to act thusly. If they are not purely rational as many people aren't then any system that assumes a basic level of competance or standard of behaviour that requires people to be purely rational whe many many people are obviously incapable of such is again bigotry pure and simple!

The net is a cornocopia of ablism at nearly every turn!

And returning to law and government systems there are copious hoops we all have to jump through that are substantially ablist. The requirements of Centrelink for those who benefit from the various pensions are often quite ablist. I get so furious having to negotiate through messy automated phone services and irrationally complex forms etc when I'm going through bad brain fog. C'mon you gits not every disabled person has a career to do these things for them! Not every person who fails to report something or who doesn't get a form in on time or turn up at the appointed time (asssuming you genuinely sent that letter Centrelink... as you got caught out on that penalising people for your own staffs mistakes more than a few times!) do so to deliberately defraud. Deeply entrenched systemic ablism!

And as for business!
Just consider telemarketing for starters. Pestered at a random unexpecting time, badgered to accept a deal which may or may not be reasonable. Now if someone has anxiety issues, confussion issues, slowed cognition, difficulty in evaluating budgets or just plain arithmatic at short notice how disstressing traumatic and potentially manipulative is that?

I occassinally have tried asking these telemarketers to send me the details of the deal they are offering in writing for me to evaluate when I can think clearly.. but nope, they can't do that can they. ABLISM. And I'm not referring to some piddling cruise or mobile phone thing. I'm talking about the large Australian telecommunications companies here like Telstra and Optus!

I have missed good deals because of this, but to avoid countless good-seeming but actually bad deals that is what I've had to do.

When most people think of disability issues they think of wheelchair access and eyesight. Those a big deal, still. But it is the issues of cognitive and learning and reading and memory and concentration that people are taking for granted to a massive extreme!

And people are penalised on forums all over the net for not being able to live up to ablist standards! People are financially penalised, getting criminal records even for not fullfilling ablist legal obligations! People are penalised in business or manipulated by it by ablist systems.

Vast amounts of daily life are filled with ablist systems, assumptions of certain levels of ability that just are not so for many people! Often the people most in need of those services!

A housebound disabled person often rellies on the net for their social interaction. When they get kicked out of communities whether it's forums mmorpgs or what-have-you that is extraordinarilly wrong!

A disability pensioner who has only the pension to survive on who suffers a financial penalty for failing to meet some ablist obligation is suffering a profound wrong!

I could go on. There are so many examples. All it takes is a little imagination to realise how utterly common these wrongs are. Just take a little time to consider it and to mention it to others as it really is something more people, especially people who work on these systems and in fields, need to think about!


Oliver A. FP said...

And the circular crap that happens if someone with cognitive disabilities tries to get support so they don't fail in all these areas:

"Fill out this form and make this appointment and take the form here and make that phone call and turn up at this time seven weeks away and sign this..."

"I'm severely dyspraxic," (the example of my partner) "I just can't do those things. Those are the things I most need help with."

"No help for you, you idiot!"

Battybattybats said...


It's truly atrocious.

Making you attend meetings in person when you have mobility issues and no private transport was another one.

bint alshamsa said...

I have experienced MANY of these problems. My lupus causes my arthritis which makes signing my name just a big mess. My signature never looks the same. I'd rather give a fingerprint because it would be easier and a lot more consistent from document to document. Of course, most places won't allow that even though it's more foolproof than a signature. When I was a child, I could sign my mother's name so well that even she couldn't tell the difference.

Anyway, this post was really excellent. It needs to be said and I hope that many people will see it and begin to understand how pervasive ablism really is.

Battybattybats said...

Hi bint alshamsa,
thanks for reading and for commenting!

Signiatures may have been a good technique for identification centuries ago but they are seriously old hat.

Good sugestion on fingerprints.

Though i read that some CFS sufferers lose their fingerprints too! And of course there are amputees etc. So one system is likely to be insufficient for everyone.

But then thats really how it should be anyway, systems taking into account diverse needs. So there needs to be diverse systems. The abled folk could have multiples as backups, let the disabled have an advantage for once maybe :)