Ableism hurts more when it comes from other disabled people.
Just because *you* didn’t find it inaccessible or discriminatory, it doesn’t mean others aren’t impacted.
I have learnt that I must look out of my own disability experience and create access and inclusion for many more in the disability community. I do this every single day – in my work in the arts, in writing, and online – and I see so many other disabled people striving to improve disability access, inclusion and representation.
Accessibility and inclusion is more than just getting in the door. It’s about feeling welcome, heard, engaged with and valued – not tokenised.
I also know I’m not going to get it right all the time. I don’t speak for every disabled person – nor do I want or claim to. I’ve made mistakes in how I’ve done activism – and I know I will continue to.
But I will continue to amplify voices, speak about disability rights issues that don’t impact me directly and pass the mic. I will continue to learn from and centre multiply marginalised, less privileged disabled people. I will always call for payment for disabled people’s lives experience and talent. And I will continue to get angry about inaccessibility and injustice – even if that doesn’t make me popular. Because allyship has to happen within the disability community, as well.
It’s not enough just to be included. It’s not enough for accessibility to be the afterthought. It’s not enough for only white disabled people to be visible. It’s not enough to only be hearing from non-intellectually disabled people. It’s not enough for accessibility to only be available on request. It’s not enough for only one type of access provision to exist. It’s not enough to politely laugh exclusion off for fear you might upset the very people who created the ableist structures. It is not enough to only want to conform in non disabled spaces, and not make room in disabled spaces.
I demand access, inclusion and representation for me – and I demand it for all other disabled people, especially those whose voices and faces aren’t often centred, and even when it doesn’t affect me directly.
Has this post helped you? Will you use it in your work? Please consider buying me a drink.