Being an ally to people with disabilities is very important in building a broader and fair society. As an ally, one can help in breaking down barriers, fight discrimination and prejudice, and support people with disabilities in leading more meaningful lives. However, becoming a stronger ally is not a one-time task, it is a continuous process of learning, growing, and taking action.
We also advocate that a real disability A.L.L.Y. should be able to:
Accept – Accept and value the worth of people with disabilities for who they are.
Listen – Listen to the experiences and perspectives of people with disabilities, and take their feedback.
Learn – Learn about different disability types and the challenges that these people face.
Yield – Yield privilege and power to people with disabilities, and take direction from the disability community.
In this post, we will delve into the various ways to become a better ally for people with disabilities. By understanding and implementing these steps, you can actively contribute to creating a more inclusive and equitable society for people with disabilities.
Steps to Become an Ally to People with Disabilities
1. Educate Yourself on disabilities.
Learning about the problems and experiences that people with disabilities go through is one of the most crucial steps you can take to become a stronger ally to them. The lives of those with disabilities are impacted by society’s attitudes and biases, accessibility requirements, and various forms of disability.
This information can be found in a variety of places, including books by Doris Zames Fleischer and Frieda Zames titled “The Disability Rights Movement,” essays by Michael Oliver titled “The Social Model of Disability,” and films produced by the Disability Visibility Project titled “Ableism 101.”
In addition, make an effort to actively seek out opportunities to speak with and learn from people with disabilities, whether by participation in seminars or events or by contacting disability-led groups in your neighborhood.
2. Listen and Learn from Individuals with Disabilities.
Another important aspect of becoming a stronger ally to people with disabilities is to actively listen and learn from individuals with disabilities. This means taking the time to understand their perspectives, experiences, and needs, rather than making assumptions or imposing your own ideas. This can involve attending events or workshops led by individuals with disabilities, reading blogs or podcasts by people with disabilities, or volunteering with a disability-led organization.
It also means being open to feedback and willing to learn from mistakes. If someone with a disability expresses that something you said or did was offensive, take it seriously and try to understand how you can do better in the future.
3. Speak Up Against Discrimination and Prejudice.
Another crucial step in being a stronger ally is to speak out against discrimination and prejudice when you see it. This can involve calling out microaggressions, such as asking someone with a mobility aid if they need help, which implies that the person with the aid is not capable of doing things by themselves.
Challenge ableist language, such as using words like “crazy” or “lame” casually, and support individuals with disabilities in advocating for themselves. It’s also important to recognize your own privilege and to use it to amplify the voices of people with disabilities. For instance, if you are in a leadership position, use your platform to promote accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities in your organization.
Call out and educate others when they make offensive or insensitive comments, and stand up against discriminatory policies and practices.
For example, if a colleague at work makes an offensive joke about people with disabilities, it’s important to speak up and educate them on why the joke is harmful and inappropriate.
Similarly, if a business or organization has a policy that discriminates against individuals with disabilities, it’s important to speak out against it and advocate for change. It’s also important to actively educate oneself about the rights and needs of people with disabilities and to use that knowledge to advocate for fair treatment and equal opportunities for all.
4. Support Accessibility
Another important aspect of ally-ship is supporting accessibility. This includes understanding the importance of physical accessibility in buildings and public spaces, as well as digital accessibility in websites and technology. It also means being an advocate for accessibility in your workplace, school, or community.
For example, if you work in an office, you can advocate for installing ramps, elevators, and wheelchair-accessible bathrooms. If you’re in charge of organizing a conference or event, you can ensure that there are American Sign Language interpreters, captioning, and other accessibility measures in place. Additionally, if you’re a web developer, you can ensure that your website is fully accessible for screen readers and keyboard-only users.
Another example is to promote the use of closed captions and subtitles in movies, television shows, and video content. This ensures that deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals can also enjoy the content. Additionally, it’s also important to advocate for accessibility when purchasing new technology and devices, whether it’s a computer, smartphone, or other devices. So, ensure that the device you are buying is accessible and user-friendly for people with disabilities.
In short, being an ally to people with disabilities means actively working towards creating an inclusive and accessible world for all. This includes understanding the importance of accessibility and actively promoting it in all aspects of life.
5. Be Open to Feedback and Learning from Mistakes.
Becoming a stronger ally is an ongoing process, and it’s important to be open to feedback and willing to make changes. This means being open to feedback from individuals with disabilities, such as if someone with a disability points out that your behavior or language is problematic, take it seriously and try to understand how you can do better in the future.
Additionally, it’s important to be aware of how privilege and power dynamics can impact the ally-ship process and to actively work towards dismantling these systems. For example, by recognizing how your privilege affects your experiences and perspectives, and actively working to center the voices and experiences of individuals with disabilities in your activism and advocacy efforts.
Additionally, it’s important to recognize that you will make mistakes, and that’s okay. The important thing is to learn from them and to continue to strive to be a better ally. Remember to be patient with yourself, and to be open to feedback and learning from others.
6. Get Involved and promote disability-led organizations and initiatives.
Another key step in becoming a stronger ally is to get involved in disability rights and advocacy efforts. This can involve actively seeking out and supporting organizations and initiatives that are led and run by individuals with disabilities. This can include things like volunteering for a disability-led non-profit organization, supporting disability-led businesses, and attending events and conferences that are organized by individuals with disabilities.
For example, if you’re interested in supporting disability-led businesses, you can research and find businesses that are run by individuals with disabilities, and make a conscious effort to shop and support those businesses. Additionally, you can research disability-led organizations and non-profits in your area and consider volunteering or donating to them. By supporting and promoting disability-led initiatives, you are actively working towards a more inclusive and equitable society, where individuals with disabilities have the opportunity to be leaders and decision-makers.
Another example is attending events or conferences that are organized by individuals with disabilities, like the National Disability Leadership Alliance or the National Council on Independent Living, which is led and run by people with disabilities.
This way, you can learn from their experience and gain perspective, and also show your support for their work. Also, you can support and share online content, podcasts, or blogs that are produced by individuals with disabilities, which allows you to gain an understanding of the issues that are important to them and how to support them.
In conclusion, becoming a stronger ally to people with disabilities is an ongoing process that requires education, active listening, speaking up against discrimination and prejudice, supporting accessibility, getting involved in disability rights and advocacy efforts, and being open to feedback and learning from mistakes.
By taking these steps, you can actively work towards creating a more inclusive and accessible world for individuals with disabilities. Remember, being an ally isn’t a one-time thing, it’s a lifelong commitment to actively working towards dismantling ableism and creating a more equitable society for all.
simply be A.L.L.Y.