This is a call to action.
It has been an horrific month for disabled people – with lots of violence, abuse, segregation and death.
But this is not new. We are tired, sad, hurting and angry. And we are scared. Many disabled people are also facing increased questions from allies, asking us what you can do.
Here’s what you can do to be a good disability ally – to shoulder the burden with disabled people:
Amplify OUR voices. It’s not enough to share news about disability issues written by non disabled people.
Don’t speak for disabled people – especially if you work in the disability sector or are a parent of a disabled child.
Understand that the disability community is diverse and intersectional. We are not homogenous. Seek out different perspectives.
Follow and engage with disabled people on social media. Read our writing, see our art, listen and learn.
Keep up to date with disability news. People with Disability Australia has a great daily media roundup that you can subscribe to on their website. (Share disability news with your friends, family and colleagues.
Stop using euphemisms like “special needs” and “differently abled” and made up words like “Diffability”. Say the words disability and disabled – they are not slurs.
Write complaint letters, calling for change. Outline the issue, provide facts and state what outcome you’d like to see happen. Write to relevant organisations, state and federal government agencies (like the NDIS, DSS, Child Protection), state and federal ministers and the Prime Minister.
Write to the media when they disrespectfully report on disability – contact the journalist (Twitter is a good place for this), the editor and write to ABC Media Watch and the Australian Media and Communications Authority.
Call out ableist language when your friends and family use it. The R word and the M word is not ok. And no, I’m not spelling those words out for you.
If you recognise Disability discrimination being reported on, or hate speech in the social media comments, don’t tag disabled people in to ask us to do something. You do something yourself – share the article or call out the comments.
Make your events accessible – from public events to birthday parties. There are lots of resources to help you, including this one that my colleagues and I wrote:
Use image descriptions on your social media posts and caption your videos.
Ensure that events you fun or speak at or attend have disability representation. If they don’t, ask the organisers why, and demand change.
Support disabled people in making complaints – I’m always grateful when I write about taxi discrimination and a social media follower makes a complaint for me as well.
Don’t let us know when you’ve been a good ally. Just be a good ally without broadcasting it. I am not giving out gold stars.
Don’t play devil’s advocate when we talk about ableism, discrimination and violence. This only confirms your bigotry.
Donate to disability led organisations like People with Disability Australia and Arts Access Australia.
Make it a safe space for people to disclose their disability if they choose to.
Don’t expect us to work for free – and this includes providing emotional labour in explaining disability related issues.
Know that it is not my job as a disabled person (or of other disabled people) to teach you everything. It’s your responsibility to read, listen and learn.
Share this post. Buy me a drink if this has helped you.
If this post make you uncomfortable, please sit with that feeling and your non disabled privilege for a bit, and vow to be a better ally.