How to be a good ally
Mobility Aids and consent
You wouldn’t hold on to your friends back or grab their t-shirt while they walk or lean on them randomly so why do people do it to wheelchair users?
When someone holds onto our wheelchairs without asking it feels like an invasion of our personal space. It makes me feel trapped and out of control. My wheelchair is a powered chair but I could not tell you the amount of times people try to push me or pull me particularly when crossing the roads or trying to get through doorways - you may feel like you’re helping or keeping your wheelchair using friends safe but really you could be damaging their chairs and making it harder for them to get into small spaces. (Plus adding lots of anxiety!!)
Talking to disabled people
Always remember not to speak on behalf of disabled people but to speak to raise awareness around issues disabled people face.
Disabled people live their lives everyday in their bodies, so ultimately they know best- if you are unsure, ask them!
Speak to a disabled person not to their carer, whether they can communicate or not always include them in conversations.
Disabled people have relationships, jobs and hobbies and it's important we think of a spectrum of disabilities.
No decision about disability should be made without consulting a person with a disability and even then it is important to remember that everyone has different experiences and having a wheelchair user aid accessibility for deaf people or sensory issues if they do not suffer from a sensory disability or hearing loss is not necessarily the way to do things.
Always thinking 'would a person in a wheelchair be able to get into this space?' 'Where is the disabled toilet, why is it a storage cupboard' 'Do they have a hearing loop' and then questioning these things- making accessibility conversations the norm.
Also knowing when it is appropriate or not. Often disabled people may just want to leave a situation and that's okay- they might be too tired to continue advocating that day and you kicking up a fuss to try to get into an inaccessible place might not help.
If there's an incident, you could always send places an email or give them a call later on so it doesn't involve your friend directly.
Always be led by the disabled person and remember that accessibility isn't just about wheelchairs.
How to advocate for disabled people properly:
As a disabled person who is able to advocate for themselves most of the time, I think it is incredibly important that I use my abilities and passion for advocacy to help fight for disabled peoples’ human rights. However advocating constantly is exhausting and we need Allies! It's important you know how to support disabled people properly!
If you can spare five minutes a week to advocate for disabled people you can help to improve the lives of people like me!
1. Sign Petitions
Signing petitions is incredibly important to ensure disabled voices are heard. Current petitions that are important to me- I will try my best to regularly update this, but anything you see regarding benefits, PIP, Disability, Intersectionality or just being a good human- it really helps. (click each to go to their page):
Allow Disabled People to Keep All Their Benefits if They Move in With a Partner
Disability Discrimination Act to cover rights for Endometriosis sufferers
2. Educate yourself:
It is exceptionally important to educate yourself on conditions as well as key issues disabled people face through research and talking to disabled people rather than through creating your own ideologies based on media perceptions of disabilities. If a friend mentions they have a new health condition - they are feeling like they can share this information with you, if you're able to ask them how you can support them with this or do your own research into the condition it
Want to educate yourself more on Tourette's Syndrome?
Watch the video I made below:
3. Follow Disabled Content Creators:
Following disabled content creators on social media helps normalise disability and can diversify your feed. Education and awareness is incredibly important too.
4. Support Disabled Owned Small Businesses.
There seems to be a strange idea that disabled people are entitled to alot of money from the government, although some disabled people are eligible for some benefits, many disabled people live in poverty. Supporting small businesses run by chronically ill or disabled people helps diminish this.