If you have a friend or family member with a disability, you may be wondering how you can best support them. Here are 4 ways to be an advocate for someone with disabilities:
Be an ally - stand up for someone with a disability when you see them being treated unfairly
Standing up for someone with a disability is one of the most generous and important things we can do as allies. Not only does speaking out on their behalf show that individual that they are not alone in the world, but it also sends a message to everyone around you that bullying or discrimination against people with disabilities is not tolerated. This kind of selfless behavior helps build communities of empathy, understanding, and compassion among all citizens. Remember - an ally is someone who commits to support and uplift marginalized populations and speaks up when they notice injustice occurring. Being an ally is a powerful tool for eliminating discrimination and promoting equality for all!
Include people with disabilities in your social plans and activities
Including people with disabilities in your social plans and activities can have many positive benefits, both for you and for the person with the disability. By welcoming everyone, regardless of their strengths or weaknesses, to be active participants in your events and gatherings, it will create a much more diverse atmosphere that celebrates different perspectives. Furthermore, including people with disabilities can help to dismantle the stigma that this community often faces and can open up new conversations about ability acceptance. So make sure your next gathering includes members from all walks of life by going out of your way to reach out to those who may otherwise be left on the sidelines.
Listen to people with disabilities when they talk about their experiences
Learning from those who have different experiences than you is essential for personal growth and understanding. Those with disabilities have a wealth of insight to offer that can broaden perspectives, but often their voices aren't heard. Listening to this invaluable source of knowledge is a vital step in creating an inclusive society. To do this, we must recognize everyone as equally important and approach conversations with a warm and open attitude, so that everyone feels welcome to share their experiences openly. Our own social circles may be limited to our individual abilities, but by listening to those with disabilities we can gain access to the unique point of view they can offer, making the world a more diverse and tolerant place.
Respect people's personal space and boundaries - don't touch someone without their consent
Respect is the foundation for so many great relationships, both personal and professional. When it comes to respecting people's personal space and boundaries, it's incredibly important that we all learn and practice proper etiquette. One of the easiest ways to show respect is to be mindful of not touching someone without their permission. Not only can tight-knit contact make someone feel uneasy, it can also be a breach of their trust. Showing respect and consideration in this way demonstrates your understanding of mutual boundaries and leaves everyone feeling more comfortable in each other's presence.
Talking about disabilities isn't easy, but it's so important in order to create inclusive environments for everyone. By educating yourself on different types of disabilities and being an ally, you can help make the world a more understanding place. At IAG, we are advocates for people with disabilities and we hope you are too.