How to be an ally beyond Disability Pride Month
Jul 28, 2023
Did you know, July is Disability Pride Month? In the United States, Disability Pride Month originated in 1990 after the passage of 'The Americans with Disabilities Act' (ADA), a landmark legislation that aimed to protect the rights of disabled people. For many, this month is a time of celebration, an opportunity to challenge negative misconceptions, and an opportunity to highlight the various barriers that persist in our society. However, we believe being an ally to the disabled community is not limited to just one month; it is an ongoing commitment that requires awareness, empathy, and action. In this blog, we will explore three essential tips we asked from the disabled community on being an ally beyond Disability Pride Month.
Understand That Disabled People Are All Individuals With Different Preferences
It's crucial to recognise that disabled individuals are not one large group; we are individuals with diverse preferences, experiences, and identities. While it's essential to be empathetic and supportive, avoid assuming that you know what's best for someone based on their disability. Just because you know one person’s disability and preferences - this doesn’t mean this is a blanket opinion of everyone.
Instead, treat each person with the same consideration you would give to anyone. Ask for their input, including accessibility needs, preferences, and accommodations when needed. Be mindful of the language you use and avoid generalising or speaking on behalf of all disabled individuals.
Don't Make Assumptions
One common mistake people make when interacting with individuals with disabilities is making assumptions based on their appearance or disability. Disability can be defined and seen in so many ways, which can both include visible and invisible conditions - each person's experience is unique. We often make assumptions based on what the media tells us. This could be because we’re often told disabled people are a group in society we should feel sorry for. However, at the other end of the scale, we’re also often told disabled people are “superheroes” for simply existing.
This can often be exhausting for disabled people. Instead, practice active listening and open communication. Ask individuals how they prefer to be supported or accommodated, as each person's needs and preferences may vary. Respect their autonomy and provide space to lead the conversation about their disability if they share it with you. By fostering open and honest dialogue, you can build genuine connections and avoid unintentionally perpetuating harmful stereotypes.
Address Your Internalised Ableism
Ableism is discrimination or prejudice against disabled people, and it often stems from internalised beliefs and biases. This can manifest in ways such as, not acknowledging disability or prioritising accessibility in the work you do. To be a better ally, it's crucial to confront and address any internalised ableism within ourselves. Reflect on your attitudes towards disability and challenge any negative or stereotypical perceptions you may hold. Educate yourself about the experiences and accomplishments of disabled individuals. What do we need to do to ensure an equitable society?
Promote inclusion by acknowledging the contributions of disabled individuals in all aspects of life. Recognise the talents, skills, and capabilities of disabled people, rather than focusing solely on what isn’t possible. Although tricky sometimes - by recognising and working to dismantle our own internalised ableism, we can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all.
So there we have it - we believe being an ally to the disabled community goes beyond just celebrating Disability Pride Month. It requires a commitment to understanding, empathy, and action throughout the year.
Here at Sociability, we know how important allyship is within the disability community. We hope society can carry the spirit of Disability Pride Month beyond July, advocating for and with disabled people around awareness, representation and accessibility.
If you’re interested in making the world a more accessible place join our community or help us map accessibility by downloading Sociability app.