Being a good ally to any community is an ongoing process. It requires being open-minded, reflecting and learning from that. Even as disabled people, we need to work at being a good ally.
How to be a good non-disabled ally to the disabled community
- Educate yourself; Listen to disabled people and take what they’re saying seriously; understand and accept their perspective even if you don’t agree with it; learn about the social model; don’t be afraid to ask questions but don’t expect a disabled person to educate you on something you could have googled.
- Believe what we’re saying.
- Learn about language, if we describe ourselves in a certain way, respect that and use it.
- Support us, but don’t tell us what to do.
- Share our voices but don’t speak for us.
- Don’t assume you know better, even if you’re a parent or carer of a disabled person, your experience is not the lived experience. And no one’s experience of disability is the same
- If you see us doing something a different way to you don’t assume that your way is better; don’t say ‘I’ll do it for you’, ask if you can help and ask how you can help.
- Use your privilege to support disabled-led organisations; offer your experience, skills, connections and resources; realise that people may not listen to disabled people as readily as they listen to you so offer your platform to a disabled voice.
- Being a parent, carer, partner, friend etc. of a disabled person does not automatically make someone an ally. Allyship is an active practice and involves listening, learning and reflecting.
- Don’t assume that you aren’t talking to someone who has lived experience of disability. Disabled people are homeowners, business owners, teachers, supermarket workers, parents, artists, athletes, gay, straight, bisexual, coffee-drinkers, husbands, wives, partners, friends…
- Look at your own community and consider how you can make it more disability aware/friendly/accessible. If you don’t think there are any disability people within your group, ask yourself if that’s because there are barriers to their involvement.
- If you make a mistake, understand it and learn from it. We all make mistakes, it’s what you do after that counts.
If you’re disabled, don’t assume you’re a good ally…
How to be a good ally to other disabled people in the disabled community
- Remember that being a disabled person does not make you an expert in all disabled people’s experiences. Disabled people still need to work at being good allies.
- Connect with others in the disabled community; listen and learn about other people’s perspectives and experiences. There’s a lot we have in common, but a lot of wonderful differences too. Sign up to YDRF, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and join our private Facebook group to get involved with the local disability community.
- Learn and speak up about issues that impact different groups within our community. Remember that something which makes things easier for you may make things harder for someone else.
- Recognise your privilege; different disabled groups have different privileges, recognise that there are advantages and disadvantages to all different kinds of situations.
- Remember those people who aren’t able to speak up for themselves or don’t have somebody who can speak up for them. Be active in reaching out to these people and learn to recognise when people are at risk of being oppressed, silenced or ignored.
- Volunteer and share your skills. Disabled people are often creative, thoughtful, driven and highly skilled; share this with others in the community by volunteering with disability groups. One of the best things you can do as someone who often needs help from others, is help other people out. If you are great with websites or fantastic at press releases, get in touch with us! We’re always looking for people to share their skills with us so we can make York better for disabled people.
Things you can do today
- Sign up to YDRF, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and join our private Facebook group
- Encourage others to join YDRF and get involved with other disabled-led organisations
- Read and share some of our blog posts
- Look for things you can do to make your organisation, event, survey etc. accessible. Question whether what you’re doing is as inclusive as possible.
- Make your social media accessible
- Share whatever you learn about accessibility from disabled people