Ableism (also known as ablism, disability discrimination, and handicapism) is the discrimination by individuals who are non-disabled, resulting in discrimination or social prejudice against people with disabilities. Ableism characterizes persons as defined by their disabilities, and as inferior to the non-disabled. At the same time on this basis, people are assigned or denied certain perceived abilities, skills, and/or character traits. Discrimination faced by those who have or are perceived to have a mental disorder is sometimes called mentalism rather than ableism.
There are stereotypes associated with various disabilities. The stereotypes in turn serve as a reason for handicapism practices and have an influence on the attitudes and behavior towards the people of the respective group. Also the labeling has effects on the person in each category. Their options for action are limited, and the person's identity changed.
In ableist societies, able-bodiedness is viewed as the norm; people with disabilities are viewed as deviating from that norm. A disability is seen as something to overcome or to fix, for example through medical treatments. The ableist worldview holds that disability is an error or a failing rather than a simple consequence of human diversity, akin to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender. Examples of ableism can be seen in society. People with disabilities being spoken for and spoken about, as if they were not present: a lack of autonomy. An example may be ordering at a restaurant, the waiter speaking to an aid or a companion instead of to the person directly.
Other definitions of ableism include those of Chouinard, who defines it as "ideas, practices, institutions, and social relations that presume able-bodiedness, and by so doing, construct persons with disabilities as marginalized […] and largely invisible 'others;'" and Amundson and Taira, who define it as "a doctrine that falsely treats impairments as inherently and naturally horrible and blames the impairments themselves for the problems experienced by the people who have them."
n. discrimination against persons with disabilities or in favour of those without. (Late 20the century.)(R:SOED5: page=5)