Thanks to the National Conference for Community and Justice for these important insights on inclusivity and ableism. These excerpts taken directly from one NCCJ bulletin provide useful definitions and statistics. The NCCJ is dedicated to “Advancing Quality, Promoting Justice, and Building Community.”


In this bulletin, we will be discussing the topic of Ableism. You’ll be able to find sections including definitions involving ableism, history, videos, articles/handouts, statistics, and questions to ponder.

When discussing ableism it is important to not label people either able or disable. Because someone can become disabled or overcome disabilities (physical or mental) in their lifetime we use the terms temporarily able and temporarily disable. In the same breath, it is also important to refer to people with disabilities as people with disabilities notdisabled people because the person comes before the disability.


Ableism: Ableism is the intentional or unintentional discrimination or oppression of individuals with disabilities.

Disability: Having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. This is 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 a disability.

Inclusion: Inclusion, comparatively, means that all products, services, and societal opportunities and resources are fully accessible, welcoming, functional and usable for as many different types of abilities as reasonably possible.

Accessibility: The quality of being possible to get into, use, make use of.

Equity: The quality of being fair, impartial, even, just.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990: states that someone is disabled if he or she “a) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; b) has a record of such an impairment; or c) is regarded as having such an impairment.”

(SOURCE: U.S. Department of Labor Employment Standards Administration Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs)

The ADA’s broad, three-pronged definition of disability focuses on functional ability rather than specific medical diagnosis to extend its legal protections to the full range of persons with disabilities. A person with a disability is defined as someone who experiences a physical or mental condition that limits the ability to perform a major life activity, such as walking, breathing, seeing, hearing, thinking, or working. The second prong of the ADA definition goes further in defining people who might be discriminated against on the basis of disability by saying that people who have a record or history of a disability are also protected from discrimination under this law. In addition, the third prong protects people who have no disability at all but who are perceived to have a disability. The second and third prongs of the ADA definitions were established in recognition that disability discrimination is a phenomenon unto itself and that disability discrimination results from misconceptions and prejudice that are partly or wholly unrelated to the reality of disability itself.


  • Mobility: Spinal Cord Injuries, Disease, Paralysis, Amputation
  • Psychiatric: Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Post Traumatic Stress
  • Auditory: Deaf, Hearing Impaired
  • Cognitive/Developmental/Intellectual: Autism Spectrum, Learning Disabilities
  • Speech: Speech Impediment, Vocal Paralysis
  • Environmental: Allergies, Chemical Sensitivities
  • Medical: Cancer, AIDS, Epilepsy, Asthma, Diabetes, Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), Cystic Fibrosis, Severe Arthritis

More Information


  • According to the US census bureau people with severe disabilities working full time earn approximately $1,000.00 less per month than non-disabled workers.
  • 54 million Americans have a disability.
  • 13.3 million people with disabilities age 16-64 have experienced difficulty finding employment because of their disability.
  • In 2008, only 98% of all transit buses were equipped with a wheelchair ramp or lift.
  • In 2008, only 13% of people age 25 or older had a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • In 2010 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported that 25,165 charges of disability discrimination were filed.

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