How to be a disability A.L.L.Y.
A significant disability affects an estimated 1.3 billion people today, or 16% of the global population. The disability community is one of the most underrepresented and misunderstood minority groups in the world. Inclusion of people with disabilities means including them in everyday activities and giving them equal opportunities, so that they can hold the same roles as their peers without disabilities.
Many people who are healthy and abled, feel disability rights are not relevant to them. Remember, disability can happen to you or your loved ones at any time. Disability issues are an integral part of social justice and human rights. A society built with accessibility and inclusivity at its core (universal design) leads to a better world.
What is the disability ally network?
An ally network is a group of people who are committed to making the world a more inclusive place for people with disabilities. Through this network, allies are empowered to challenge ableism and advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. This network allows members to discuss disability issues, network with other allies, and come up with ways to work together to create a more inclusive society.
The importance of allyship
Allyship is essential in the effort to create a more inclusive and accessible society. An ally makes a conscious effort to create a safe and supportive environment, where all individuals feel respected and valued. Allyship is not only important for those with disabilities, but also for those who believe in justice and equity. By being an active ally, each of us can make a difference in the lives of disabled individuals and communities.
What are some things I can do to be an ally?
Being an ally to people with disabilities involves more than just being kind and understanding. Here are some things you can do to become a better ally.
Acknowledge and respect individual experiences and abilities
Before we can become disability allies, we must first be aware of our own biases. Take the time to reflect on your own attitudes and assumptions about disability and be prepared to confront those biases. Once you are aware of your biases and have worked to address them, you can work to create an inclusive environment for everyone.
Acknowledging a person with disability means not defining them just by their condition. Just as many different aspects define who you are as a person, a multitude of aspects make up a person with disability too. In addition, one may have more than one disability. One may identify with more than one marginalized community, known as intersectionality.
Many ableistic behaviors are so ingrained in us that we do not even recognize them as discriminatory. Even a disabled person can be biased against another person with a different kind of disability. Once we accept people with disabilities as a part of our world, and the fact that differences in experiences, health conditions and abilities are what make up the "normal" cross-section of every community, we can work towards a more just society.
Learn about different disability types
In order to be an effective ally, it is essential to educate yourself about disability issues and the challenges faced by disabled individuals, and share your knowledge with others. The widespread use of wheelchair as a symbol of disability has done a great disservice to those with invisible disabilities. Disability can be of many types and not every disability is visible. Do not make assumptions about people. Know more about invisible disabilities here.
If you are interested in disability rights, spend some time learning about its history, and how advocacy efforts have changed over time. Also, it is illuminating to explore a wide range of perspectives from disabled activists and allies.
Be open to discussing disability with friends, family, and coworkers. Try to learn about disability inclusiveness etiquettes. Respect the privacy of people with disabilities and do not stare or ask personal questions. Never assume that someone with a disability cannot do something. Be patient when communicating with someone with a speech or hearing impairment. Respect the rights of people with disabilities to make their own decisions.
Leverage your influence to promote accessibility and inclusion
An ally actively advocates for the cause in big and small ways. Start with your personal life , family and inner social circle. And work outwards to create changes at the workplace and in the larger society. Include people with disabilities in your social activities. Advocate for the inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of social life. Support businesses that are inclusive and accessible for people with disabilities.
Being an ally means advocating for the rights of people with disabilities and speaking out against injustice and discrimination. You can contribute to raising awareness about issues facing the disability community through social media and supporting these issues at your workplace.
It’s not always easy to “call out” someone who is making a biased comment, but it is important to show your support and understanding of disability issues. If someone is making a comment that perpetuates stereotypes or makes light of a disability issue, be sure to take the opportunity to educate them about its implications. You can fight ableism and challenge negative attitudes, behaviors and assumptions about disability when you come across them.
Yield the floor to people with disabilities to help identify and eliminate barriers
As a disability ally, work towards creating a space where there is open discussion about disability and human rights. Encourage your children to learn about these issues. Advocate for children's schools to add disability and human rights to their syllabus.
As an ally, it is essential to lead by example. Invite people with disabilities to the discussion table, and listen to and understand their inputs when making decisions. Work to create more accessible spaces in the different spheres of your life. The goal of inclusiveness involves more than just encouraging people to participate. It also involves ensuring that appropriate policies, accessible programs, and inclusive practices are implemented in a community or organization.
Every bit you put in can help to make the world a more equitable place for people with disabilities. This can be done through small acts of kindness, such as offering help to those who need it or helping someone to find an accessible space. It can also be done through larger acts of advocacy, such as organizing a rally or a fundraiser to benefit the disability community.
No matter how big or small, every act of allyship is valuable and helps to create a better world for everyone. Everyone can contribute to addressing these accessibility barriers and make a difference. Be a disability ALLY and let people know that you are one!
What Happens When You’re Disabled but Nobody Can Tell
Health equity for people with disabilities: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/humandevelopment/health-equity.html
Get the disability ALLY buttons and know more https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/humandevelopment/become-a-disability-ALLY.html