We're all guilty of making assumptions about people, of seeing the world through our own beliefs and life experiences. It's natural but it's also problematic; that's why my WI had a talk on unconscious bias to help us notice when we're doing it and how we can stop.
There are many types of bias including gender bias, ageism, confirmation bias -where you see what you expect, and conformity bias - where you act differently to fit in with a group.
We've all experienced at least one of these biases directed against us and know first-hand how infuriating it is at best, or how painful at worst. That's why it's so important to check our own bias and see how we can do better.
I'm disabled so I notice a lot of bias against disabled people, also known as ableism. I had hoped that things would improve since the pandemic, specifically around understanding of what it's like to be house bound. The whole country was forced into lockdown and for a brief period everyone knew what it was like not to be able to go out, to see friends and family, or to do the things you love. I expected this understanding to continue once lockdown ended but in society's rush to return to normal, memories of what it's like for disabled and house bound people seem to have vanished.
Meetings, events and festivals that went virtual so people could still attend, are back to in-person only. The hope disabled people had that they would be more included in society is rapidly dying. Virtual adjustments we were always told were completely impossible have been proven very possible, when non-disabled people needed them, but suddenly they’re not again. It’s understandable that frustration within the disability community is high.
If you're organising an event or meeting and you're no longer offering a virtual option, ask yourself why. If inclusivity and equality is important to you, then you have to do better. If it was possible once, then don’t stop now, a whole community is relying on you to ensure they aren’t forced back into isolation.
This piece first appeared in the EDP for the WI Week column on Saturday 9th October 2021.
Claire Wade is the winner of the Good Housekeeping Novel Competition and author of The Choice. She was bed bound for six years with severe ME, trapped in a body that wouldn't do what she wanted. She now writes about people who want to break free from the constraints of their lives, a subject she's deeply familiar with.
I'm an author, disability activist, winner of the Good Housekeeping First Novel Competition and The EABA for Fiction 2020 and co-founder of Authors with Disabilities and Chronic Illnesses (ADCI).
The Choice is available from:
Title: The Choice
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