I feel as though in giving "ableism" a definition one must first understand "disableism" or disability, much like to understand justice one must understand what opression is.
When asked in class what we first thought of when thinking of the word disability, I started writing things such as wheelchairs, special classes, and group homes. I then scratched that out and wrote this : disability- limitations either physically or mentally that restrict someone from societal normativity. In searching the internet for a definition I found this definition given by the World Health Organization:
"Disabilities is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions. An impairment is a problem in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty encountered by an individual in executing a task or action; while a participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in involvement in life situations. Thus disability is a complex phenomenon, reflecting an interaction between features of a person's body and features of the society in which he or she lives."
As someone said in class, they felt "othered" while they were in a situation with the majority of participants being from the students with special needs program in their school. Similarly, I worked in a group home for three years with four clients that were all clinically diagnosed with having mental retardation. Being involved in this community was really a new world to me, I had never known about all of the opportunities that were available for the disabled population in our area. The activities and community outings that were specialized for this group of people was amazing and in this setting my clients were completely in their elements with their peers. I feel as though the WHO's definition of disability works for this example because it is a complex idea that is a reflection of interacting with others in the society in which one lives.