As able-bodied individuals, we live in a society that regularly and easily accommodates our every need. As such, we often forget the privilege that this entitles us.
The following list includes examples of the benefits those of us who are able-bodied — i.e. not physically disabled, chronically ill, severely obese or otherwise physically limited — experience. (Cognitive ability, a.k.a. neurotypical privilege also exists, but deserves its own article, so will not be included in this list).
Keeping these things in mind will help us to relate to those among us who encounter barriers due to physical limitations and to gain more understanding of what they go through on a daily basis.
- You can go about your day without planning every task, like getting dressed or going to the bathroom.
- You can play sports easily.
- Public transportation is easy for you.
- Air travel is relatively easy for you.
- Others don’t get frustrated with you in public for needing special accommodations or holding up lines.
- You don’t have to worry about others’ reactions to your able-ness.
- You have ample role models of your ability to whom you can aspire.
- You don’t frequently encounter communication barriers.
- Leisure activities like gardening, knitting or woodworking are easy for you.
- You can expect to be included in-group activities.
- As an able-bodied person, you are well-represented in movies, books and TV shows. Typically you don’t have to rely on others to accomplish tasks.
- Others don’t assume you need to rely on them to accomplish tasks.
- As a healthy person, you don’t have to think about your daily pain level when planning events and activities.
- You can expect to find housing that accommodates your physical needs.
- People don’t make fun of you because of your ability.
- Public access to buildings, parks, restaurants etc. is easy for you (this especially applies in small towns wherein handicap access may be limited).
- If you get hired people don’t assume it’s based on your ability.
- You don’t face job discrimination based on your ability.
- Your ability isn’t the butt of jokes in TV shows and movies.
By no means is this a complete list of able-bodied privilege. Please share more examples below!
Shannon Ridgway is from the great flyover state of South Dakota (the one with the monument of presidential heads). In her free time, Shannon enjoys reading, writing, jamming out to ’80s music and Zumba, and she will go to great lengths to find the perfect enchilada. Follow her on Twitter@sridgway1980.