Beginning a new school year can be a moment for recognizing and challenging ingrained patterns and perspectives in order to create a more inclusive and welcoming campus community. One pernicious aspect of campus life is the pervasive ableism that often goes unacknowledged. Ableism refers to the beliefs, practices, and physical arrangements that disadvantage and stigmatize those with disabilities, whether visible or invisible. One of this week’s articles asks, “Where are the disabled and ill academics?” noting that a higher percentage of students disclose their disability status than faculty. Another article points out that the dominant conceptions of disability make claiming a disability a professionally risky move, especially voluntarily disclosing an invisible disability like a neurodiverse condition. A third article by a professor with a visible disability warns that accommodations may inadvertently impose “unreasonable adjustments” that require “additional unpaid labor.” Crafting a welcoming, inclusive, and accessible campus includes re-examining dominant perceptions and caricatures of disabilities, listening respectfully to experiences of ableism, stigma, and the complexities of accommodation, and working together for more responsive policies and practices.
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