Article | Open Access
Same Old New Normal: The Ableist Fallacy of “Post-Pandemic” Work
Abstract: The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has catalyzed long-needed changes in accessibility and flexibility for work tasks. Disabled and chronically ill people have often experienced unprecedented inclusion during this time. As someone who is both disabled and chronically ill, I have experienced this firsthand. My work as a medical educator, public health program evaluator, and community advocate has been more accessible in recent months than at any prior time. As the pandemic escalated in early 2020, people readily embraced a “new normal” that would allow them to sustain their own livelihoods while staying as safe as possible. Yet even as Covid-19 cases increase sharply both locally and nationally with the spread of the Delta virus variant, many abled people from both my institution and others increasingly demand a return to pre-pandemic practices. The “normal” state for which abled individuals ardently long violates the basic human rights of disabled and chronically ill people. This desire for “normalcy” is fueled by false notions of the pandemic being over. It remains preferred by many for the sake of their own comfort—even though sustaining the inclusive approaches to collaboration introduced during the pandemic often requires little effort and offers advantages for abled people as well. This experiential piece describes ableist implications of seeking “post-pandemic” work environments—and how these constitute “generic processes” in the reproduction of ableism—using both oral history from the author and emerging literature from fellow scholars. In response, it recommends inclusive strategies for anti-ableist work collaboration that achieve justice in accessibility while fostering a welcome sense of normalcy for all.
Keywords: accessibility; chronic illness; Covid-19; disability; inequality; justice; work
© Alexandra "Xan" C. H. Nowakowski. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.