Dear disabled friend,
Happy Disability Day!
Disability is broad. It encompasses physical disability, diverse mental health, sensory impairments like Deafness and blindness, cognitive disability, neurodivergency, chronic illness, and dynamic disability – that is, conditions that change in severity from one day to another. And external barriers, and sometimes our bodies, are disabling.
If one or more if these apply to you, you’re welcome in the disability community! Even if you haven’t got a formal diagnosis. You belong. You can call yourself disabled (if you want to).
You don’t need to disclose your disability to ask for accessibility provisions.
Your body and mind are not broken or unworthy or unlovable or unsightly because you’re disabled.
Look outside your diagnosis. And look outside whiteness – to First Nations and people of colour members of the disability community. You’ll be amazed with how many shared experiences you’ll have with other disabled people. Meeting other disabled people with different diagnoses was one of the things that helped give me permission to call myself disabled too (even though I’ve had ichthyosis since birth).
Be a welcoming committee to newcomers to the disability community. Tell them what to expect, and encourage them to connect with the community. It’s a wealth of knowledge and support.
And if you’re new, be opened to being welcomed. Don’t reject the lived experience of other disabled people.
Be a good ally within the community. Advocate for others if you can. Pass on jobs and opportunities. Don’t police other people’s disability experience or presentation. Your disability experience or way of doing advocacy isn’t the only valid one.
You don’t have to be friends with every disabled person you know.
Celebrate the success of disabled people. One person’s success doesn’t diminish your value. Success makes more space for everyone.
Disability pride and also frustration about your disability can co-exist. I know it can be a full time job managing your disability and all the medical admin and the ableism encountered. It’s a lot.
You deserve to be paid adequately for your advocacy work – for all work.
You also don’t owe people explanations about your disability.
Take up space, unapologetically. You deserve to be here.
Happy Disability Day to you! I hope you have a great day.
Much love x
Image: Woman with a red face, short dark curly hair, wearing a pink and purple and white long floral dress and link sequinned jacket, standing near a big floral arrangement, smiling. “Dear disabled friend…” is in black text on a beige wall behind her.