Today is International Day of People with Disabilities! It is a day to celebrate those who live with disability as well as reflect on how far society needs to go before we reach disability equality. One of the things that is crucial to moving forward on issues such as ableism and inaccessibility is having the support of allies. The idea of being an ally is one that has been discussed a lot recently in regards to Black Lives Matter and how as non-Black people, we can still support the movement. Today I am going to give my three top tips on how to also be a good ally to disabled people:
- Listen: disabled voices are so often dismissed or diminished, whether it be by doctors, teachers or peers. This means that simply by listening to the experiences of disabled people is absolutely invaluable.
- Don’t try to “problem solve”: there are so many disabilities that don’t have a “cure” or a “quick fix”. For example, if someone with chronic pain tells you that they are in pain, most of the time they just want the space to tell someone this, and not have someone try to “fix” it.
- Use your voice: This is probably the most important point out of the three. It is so tiring to constantly be speaking out against ableism and inaccessibility. Throw in some chronic fatigue and that exhaustion becomes unbearable. Being a good ally means using your voice to speak when your disabled peers aren’t able to. Educate yourself, read, listen and learn from other disabled voices so that you are equipped to speak out against ableism and challenge inaccessibility, and champion the voices of disabled people when they ARE able to speak out.
If you want more information or resources that talk about disability then please head to exeterguild.org/idpwd for recommendations of books, podcasts and videos that will help you to learn more.
Ruby, Vice President Welfare and Diversity