Sunday, February 13, 2011

Able Privilege Checklist

I stumbled across the Thin Privilege Checklist today and practically fell over in glee. It's perfect, absolutely perfect, and it's based on the White Privilege Checklist by Peggy McIntosh, which is equally brilliant. I found several checklists of Able-Bodied Privilege here, here and here. However, I figured I'd have a go at it. Note that my checklist is written in the second person, as in "you" this, "you" that, because I am not able-bodied and feel that it would be a bit presumptuous for me to imply that I know what it is like to be Able and have Able privilege. If anything that I say in this checklist is misinformed or untrue, please feel free to contact me and we can discuss it. So.....without further ado, here is Spaz Girl's Able Privilege Checklist!

As an able-bodied person, every day:
  • You can get from point A to point B without worrying about how you are going to get there and how much energy each travel option will cost you.
  • You can say "I'm tired." and not be criticized for "always being tired".
  • You can get inside all buildings by the main entrance, and will never be forced to go around a sketchy back entrance or denied entrance to the building while others pour freely in and out of the main entrance.
  • You can go and come as you please, without everyone and their mothers knowing the meticulous details of where you are going and what you are doing.
  • You can blend into the crowd reasonably well and do not constantly feel like you have a neon sign over your head saying "different".
  • You can draw, cut, and do an assortment of motor-skill related things without putting much thought into it, and your final product probably will not look a kindergartener did it.
  • You can have privacy in the bathroom.
  • You can do something ordinary or out of the ordinary without being called "brave", "courageous", "special" or "an inspiration".
  • You can open a door without putting thought into how you are going to do it.
  • You can go out in public and will not be accosted by a variety of tired, cheap car jokes scuh as "Do you have a license for that thing?"
  • Parts of your body are usually not grabbed, touched, and pulled without your permission.
  • Parts of your body (or extensions of your body) are not referred to as "that thing".
  • You can easily step over bumps in the sidewalk, massive snow piles and other obstacles without having to have the concentration of a tightrope walker.
  • You can eat without the concentration of a tightrope walker and most of the food will end up in your mouth.
  • You can get your own food and carry it to your table without the concentration of a tightrope walker and will not be exhausted from the effort before even taking a single bite.
  • You know that you are not considered "abnormal".
  • Your mobility relies on the power of your legs, and your legs alone. As such, you will never be stranded somewhere because of a dead wheelchair/scooter battery.
  • You can look into people's eyes without having to crane your neck upwards.
  • You are not at the level of other people's butts.
  • You can go for an interview or other professional experience without fear of being judged on your perceived ability.
  • You can go out in public without being stared at and asked rude questions.
  • You do not live in fear of being institutionalized.
  • You are not told, directly or indirectly, that you are "too self sufficient".
  • Other people do not try to speak for you and you speak for yourself.
  • You are not made to feel, on a daily basis, by other people's attitudes, actions, and outside barriers, that you are not wanted and your opinion is not valued.
  • You can open a magazine, watch a TV show, or look at a textbook and see many diverse people of your ability represented.
  • You are not expected to be meek, passive, and perpetually grateful.
  • You rarely have to accept help and charity from other people.
  • It is not suggested, either implicitly or explicity, that you would be better off dead.
  • You do not feel like part of a dying species.
  • You can be pretty much positive that wherever you go, you will not be the only Able person.
  • You are not made to feel like a bad, lazy person for not pushing yourself to exhaustion.
  • In public, people talk to you, not the person you're with.
  • You can be out in public with another Able person without causing a disturbance simply by the presence of two of you.
  • People of your ability are usually in the majority.
  • When you go to a movie theater or concert, you can sit in any seat you want.

Feel free to add more and/or ask questions if something is unclear!


Carl Thompson said...


Mind if I share it around?

Cara Liebowitz said...

Not at all! Just made sure you credit me :)

Elizabeth McClung said...

Thanks, this list made me laugh out loud because I had grown too used to loss of privilage that this helped me remember for example that not everyone has to show their v. bits to each and every temp care worker assigned for only that day. Also, wanted to add "You can engage in sexual intimacy or masturbation in your own home without a) one or several people telling you it makes them uncomfortable, b) having a management review because you did, and c) allowed privacy to be yourself sexually - we are still sexual beings even if disabled.

I love the bit about being too self sufficient, or threatened for being too healthy or assertive - these days anything but a lowering the cap to the ground with a 'oh thank yee, thank yee kind master and mistress' gets a 'maybe we should review your care/your assistance/etc.

Thanks for waking me up!

Anonymous said...

Dear Spaz Girl:

The WiderNet Project seeks your permission to distribute "Butterfly Dreams", published at, to people lacking Internet access via the eGranary Digital Library. This resource will be highlighted in our Global Disability Rights Library. If you would like more information please email me: katherine(at)
Thank you,
Katherine Wilson

Digital Librarian
WiderNet Project
201 Communications Center
The University of Iowa

Hua said...

Looks like a pretty definitive list. I agree, this is a great idea.


Anonymous said...

LOVE it! Yeah!

Also, along with the cheap car jokes, I get a lot of, "There are speed limits, you know, yuk yuk yuk," and most often, "Wow! You really know how to corner in that thing!" Medical personnel say that a lot. (Well, yeah, seeing as how I use it inside my narrow, winding home EVERY DAY.)

Also, LOVED what Elizabeth said!...

I discovered, after years of being on the personal care program, that I was breaking all sorts of rules. i.e., I write lesbian erotica, so I have books of lesbian erotica lying around and have even had PCAs type work for me, etc.

Apparently, my job as a writer constitutes sexual harassment. Fortunately, I have never been reviewed because of it!

Anonymous said...

There's also:

Nobody demands to know your intimate medical history or to view your passport/driving license just to get into a theme park or any other recreational place.

Lately I've been planning a day out to a theme park during the summer, and I'm aghast at how many think they can demand a note from my doctor or no access for me.

Anonymous said...

As an able-bodied person, this really points out to me just how privileged I am, when it's something I rarely considered prior to reading. Thank you a lot for this eye-opening read, it really does make me consider how much easier my life is.

Anonymous said...

Basically what the anon above me said. These really are things you don't think about much as an able-bodied person.
Thanks for the eye-opener!

Anonymous said...

As a disabled person who's not in a wheelchair:
Privilege Checklists don't assume that you're wheelchair-bound

Anonymous said...

very cool!
to anon nitpicking on wheelchair, oh she wrote it based on her experience? didn't she say that at the top? and she includes energy issues and other non-specific to wheelchair issues? why not do what others have done and ADD a POSITIVE comment/point of information? like she asked?
sorry, my fuse is a bit short today ;)
my addition: you can read news of positive progress in legislation about attack and abuse without feeling like someone is dragging fish hooks out of you because it has taken soooo long to get this recognised, and you are not the expert in the room on how this is not enough because of - insert painful area of expertise in your own or other's lifethreatening trauma - you get to just say, oh cool.
thanks for your great post!

Katy said...

Amazing! Thank you for writing this. As an able, white, female who works in IT and Entertainment a few of these are very familiar to me as well. It's also reminded me to advocate for ADA Access Compliance in all the buildings/spaces that I work.

These ones!
-You are not told, directly or indirectly, that you are "too self sufficient".
-Other people do not try to speak for you and you speak for yourself.
-You are not made to feel, on a daily basis, by other people's attitudes, actions, and outside barriers, that you are not wanted and your opinion is not valued.

EG said...

Thanks! You acknowledged Peggy McIntosh's White Privilege list - there is overlap in being easily identified as different and excluded because of it. I live in a multi-racial household & a number of your points go beyond able privilege to racial privilege and multiple levels of difference.

Unknown said...

This a great list, but it really highlights for me that I don't fit in anywhere. I, thankfully, can do the majority of this list, most days. Yet, I have CP, and there are days that are not so blessed.