Ableism in the Netherlands

Stairs, stairs, stairs, and more stairs. Looking at the Netherlands from a disability studies perspective, one finds a country built almost exclusively on ableism. Ableism is the belief that being able-bodied is the norm, and society builds its infrastructure based on that belief, lowering the value of anyone that has an impairment.

So far during our time, I’ve recognized several examples of this including the high number of stairs in Amsterdam. Elevators are few and far between, the only compromise are the few escalators. While these are more common and seen much more often than elevators, stairs are most common in restaurants, stores, etc. This limits the ability of anyone with an impairment to fully experience the space.

Continuing from this, Joppe said that biking will often get you to a destination much faster than walking or public transportation. Someone with an impairment cannot necessarily bike and therefore must travel slower than an able-bodied person. In addition, I have yet to see any form of public transportation that has a ramp for wheelchairs.

Clearly, from what I’ve experienced this far, the Netherlands has based its infrastructure and public transportation systems on this theory of ableism.


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