When we talk about bias against people with intellectual or development disabilities (IDD), what we mean is the negative attitude or judgment that individuals or groups hold. When this bias is “implicit,” we mean that this attitude is present without the individual or group’s conscious awareness.
The reality of bias, especially implicit or unconscious bias serves to slow inclusion, opportunities, and the delivery of supports to persons with IDD and others.
The American Bar Association established a resource on this topic to advance awareness. But researcher Tessa Charlesworth, Ph.D., in discussing implicit bias notes that, “Disability bias over 14 years has only shifted by 3 percent.” She claims that such bias is “more automatic and less controlled” than more conscious explicit beliefs. Some educators in the United States and Canada are collaborating to address implicit bias.
We can claim some progress in addressing conscious or “explicit” bias as we witness more positive societal messages, and advances in education and employment.
But our post-COVID crisis which continues for many Massachusetts constituents with IDD, points to a lack of societal commitment to address our constituents’ needs.
We must increase advocacy to combat bias and other factors which have prevented new and systemic solutions for those facing nearly 3 years of isolation and the lack of daily assistance.