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Why Disability Hierarchy Matters in Employment

Why Disability Hierarchy Matters in Employment

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This about disability hierarchy, and why it affects disability employment.

“Disability hierarchy”​ is this idea – conscious or not – that some disabilities rank higher than others. It can swing in so many ways, depending on our experiences with disability, and with our own connection with ableism. Within the larger cross-disability community we see and experience a lot of it, even actively distancing ourselves from people with certain types of disabilities (“I’m not like them!”, “nothing wrong with my brain, just my legs!”).

This clearly affects all of us with disabilities.

I mean, it affects EVERYONE, regardless of the presence of disability in their life, because putting anyone down never helps the collective whole to rise and fly. In thinking about the intersection of disability and employment, disability hierarchy affects us because it ends up stating things like:

  • some types of disabilities deserve less pay, by dint of the disability (- sheltered workshops, for example)
  • some types of disabilities are worth more than others in an organization, not because of the skill sets the disabilities often lend to the person with the disability, but simply because of the visibility of the disability and it being something that can lend itself to tokenism)
  • there is a limit to how many of us can succeed or “get in” with an organization
  • some of us are worth more than others

And so on and so forth. A whole bunch of baloney, but baloney we really should be aware of so that we can be sure we take it out of our respective refrigerators  and dump it. We should also recognize the smell of it, so if we do catch whiffs of it later, we’ll know what it is!

The post where I originally talk about disability hierarchy is linked here:

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