Not only is disability advocacy work imperative at every level of government, it is critical to intersectional movements. Everyone should take part in disability advocacy and there is room for everybody in the disability rights movement. However, it is important that non-disabled people recognize their privilege while partaking in disability advocacy work.
If you are non-disabled and partaking in disability advocacy work, make sure to…
- Do your own research: Don’t expect and rely on disabled people to educate you. Put in the effort to understand disability issues. Read and engage with the work of disabled authors and creators to help inform your advocacy. Social media is a great place to start.
- Follow the lead of disabled people: It’s not your movement to lead. Support the work of disabled leaders and always amplify the voices of people with lived experience. This follows the principles of Disability Justice because we should follow the lead of those who are most impacted.
- Remember disability issues when you vote: Look for candidates who have thoughtful positions on disability issues and take time to ask them about those issues. Recognize how all political topics relate to disability and affect people with disabilities.
- Tell your story: Only tell your own story and don’t confuse it with a disabled loved one’s story—they are different. Explain to others how a certain scenario affects you as an ally to the disabled community. Anecdotes and connections are a helpful advocacy tool but be sure your story is authentic to you.
- Utilize social media: Social media is a powerful tool for advocacy. Share the work of disabled authors and creators on your accounts. This will amplify disabled voices. Online spaces are powerful organizing grounds for the disability community. Make sure to describe pictures or images and other accessibility features so that everyone can utilize your posts.
- Recognize your privilege: In the words of Alice Wong, “Non-disabled people can do so much to make the world a little bit more welcoming and a little more accessible by just understanding their own privilege, acknowledging it and also understanding that we all have a collective responsibility.” It is imperative that non-disabled disability advocates recognize their privilege in advocacy spaces. In the advocacy space, privilege can be following the crowd up the stairs instead of trying to find the nearest elevator, being able to understand the speakers talking over each other in a committee meeting instead of reading a transcript or utilizing an interpreter, or being able to read any PDF you are sent regardless of screen reader compatibility. Non-disabled advocates must actively amplify the work of disabled leaders and make room for people with disabilities to participate.
Here’s a small list of Disabled leaders and organizations you can begin to engage with online to start getting involved in disability advocacy: