Is failure to recognise disability, in itself, disablism? (Discuss)

Back in 2003, I was involved in a project, where I was acting as convenor/facilitator as well as software developer (never again!). Since it is a passion of mine, and also matched the agenda of one of the (government) stakeholders, social inclusion was one of the core project values.

To further the element of social inclusion in the project, I proposed and co-facilitated a community consultation which we called the “Accessibility Focus Forum”. This objective of this forum was to examine issues faced by people with disabilities, living in a rural area, and promote networking between the interested parties.

One of the issues I wanted to see raised at the forum is one that I would like to address again here: the term “people with disabilities” often fails to be inclusive of non “classical” disabilites (sensory, mobility, etc.), such as CFS / Fibromyalgia, despite the fact that these fit the UN definition of a disability.

Disability: Any restriction or lack of ability to perform an activity in the manner or within the range considered normal for a human being.

Is, therefore, a non-inclusive definition of disability, a form of disablism?


It is somewhat ironic that, after the forum, my health, which had not been good that year, went steadily downhill. Since then, I have had innumerable heath issues, including insulin resistance, the diagnosis and treatment of severe sleep apnoea, poor immunity, weird dizziness, allergies and constant, crippling fatigue. My capacity for work is – on average – about twelve hours per week. I never know from one day to the next whether I will be able to work. In short, I have a disability, at least within the scope of the UN definition.

The silver lining of my particular cloud is that I have a useful, personal, perspective that I can bring to bear in my web accessibility work. The nadir of my apnoea days has shown me that attention span (I would probably have had to read a post of this length a dozen or more times due to “microsleeps”) can be a major accessibility issue. I still have this issue to a degree, often giving up on reading articles because they are “too much like hard work”

Disabled (adj) or Disabled (

In my previous post, I looked at the word disabled as a state of being, versus something that has been done to one. The pursuit of wild geese and red herrings, courtesy of the majority of the medical community with which I have consulted, leads me to apply the latter definition to my own case.