How To Be An Ally for the Disability Community

By Zane Landin

There are many diverse members of the disability community — people with disabilities, allies, caretakers, caregivers, and advocates. People with disabilities have advocated for themselves in unique, creative ways to survive throughout history. For the disability community to continue gaining mobility in the mainstream movement of social justice, it is important for the emergence of allies. Are you an ally for the disability community? If not, here is how you can become an ally for the disability community.

Learn About the Disability Community

Begin by just learning about the disability community. There are many resources to learn about ableism, discrimination, prejudice, the movement, and the history about the disability justice movement. Project LETS is a great resource dedicated to demystifying the disability movement. Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution is a film available on Netflix telling the stories of people with disabilities and the grassroots movement. Diversify the content you are viewing by subscribing and following influencers with disabilities.

Always Consider Accessibility 

A significant barrier to people with disabilities becoming more integrated in everyday activities is accessibility. If something is inaccessible for people with disabilities, they won’t be able to fully participate. No matter where you are or what your role is as a student, caretaker, educator, employee, or leader, accessibility needs to be addressed all the time and at every angle. How can you make an experience more accessible for people with disabilities?

Be Proactive

The place you are currently working, is there a strong, supportive culture for the disability community? Is there a disability employee resource group (ERG)? Have you ever heard ableist language like “crazy, insane, lame, bound to a wheelchair, slower, etc. If you want to be an effective ally for the disability community, challenge the world you live in. If you hear language against people with disabilities, don’t be afraid to speak up. It can be hard, but your efforts are greatly appreciated and will go a long way to create a more equitable world for people with disabilities.

Show up Authentically and Imperfectly

We ask you to show up authentically and imperfectly. Have good intentions to support the disability community, but understand that you will make mistakes. Becoming an ally is a process and a journey. We all make mistakes and don’t be too hard on yourself when you make them. It isn’t a mistake if you learn from it.

Zane Landin is a Communication (Public Relations) student at Cal Poly Pomona with a passion for mental health access, disability rights, and diversity and inclusion.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash