How Stereotypes of Disabilities are Harmful: An interview with A Blurred Muffle.

Stereotypes surrounding disability affect how disabled people are treated in their communities, at job centres, at the doctor’s office, in education and many other aspects of life.

I spoke to A Blurred Muffle, a British-Pakistani disability blogger and advocate who is DeafBlind, meaning she has dual-sensory loss, about the kind of stereotypes disabled people are faced with and how they are harmful to them.

The “you don’t look disabled comment”

People have invisible disabilities. You probably wouldn’t know that someone was colour-blind unless they told you. The same way you won’t know if someone is deaf, blind or in pain unless they have a mobility aid or tell you. Disabled people are not bound to a wheelchair. Disabilities aren’t always physical. Mental disabilities exist too. A disability is something that impacts a person’s daily life from movements to activities.

Telling a disabled person that they “do not look disabled” invalidates the hardships that they face. It is extremely concerning that people with jobs that involve interacting with disabled people like job centre staff, hold harmful preconceived notions about disabled people. Even the application processes which disabled people have to use in order to receive crucial financial assistance are inaccessible to them.

A Blurred Muffle explained how her faith in the social care and welfare system diminished due to her multiple experiences of ableism. Her application for PIP (personal independence payment) wasn’t accessible for her. “I had to fight for email communication with DWP. I was told that I should be able to use the telephone if I can understand speech in person.” Not being able to complete the application process over the phone meant that the assessor assumed that she could not possibly understand English.