2021 Equity Challenge Day 19: Access and Equity in Disability

I feel a little bitter that most non-disabled people do not have this dilemma of whether they will exchange their privacy to be seen as human. I am also aware that I am not alone in this experience, and that many marginalized people are put in the position of having to prove their humanity every day.

Alice Wong

Disability rights activist, founder and director of Disability Visibility Project

Disability is having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. This includes people who have a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have a disability. It also includes individuals who do not have a disability but are regarded as having one. The World Health Organization reports that almost everyone is likely to experience some form of temporary or permanent disability within their lifetime. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), signed into law in 1990, prohibited discrimination on the basis of disability in all areas of public life. Though this was a major step toward equity for all, there remain numerous inequities that still negatively impact people with disabilities. A few examples of these inequities include unequal access to adequate health care, limited appropriate services in rural and remote areas, exclusion from formal education and physically inaccessible public spaces.

This inequity is perpetuated by the ideology of ableism: discrimination that favors able-bodied people. It is the intentional or unintentional discrimination or oppression of individuals with disabilities.



Learn about and consider the potential effects of spatial injustice in society by reading “Ableism and the Struggle for Spatial Justice.” (8 minutes)

Read “Ableism 101” by Ashley Eisenmenger. (3 minutes)

Learn how COVID-19 has exacerbated inequities for people with disabilities (3 minutes)


Watch Brendan Campbell’s TED Talk on “Confronting Ableism.” (19 minutes)



Take steps toward ending ableism by connecting with or attending an event by Southeastern Michigan organizations like Disability Network Oakland and Macomb and The Arc Detroit.

Reflect And Share:

  1. How did today’s material make you feel? What did you learn from today’s material?
  2. After reviewing today’s resources, reflect on your social identities in the context of the country you live in. In which areas related to disability are you privileged? Are there areas related to disability which you experience inequity or discrimination? 
    1. Day One has a Social Identity Wheel activity. This is a great resource to reflect on your social identities like disability and how your identities intersect.
  3.  What are ways you can create a more inclusive space that does not center ableism? Think of your school, workplace, home, religious group, etc. 
  4. What material from today do you still have questions about or want to learn more about? What are ways you can further explore those questions?


Start the conversation. Send the tweet. Share your story. Make the Facebook post. Sharing what you learn and experience with your family, friends, and co-workers is the first step toward allyship.

Join thousands in conversation by using hastag #EquityChallenge or #TakeTheEC21