Last week, I wrote about some of the problems behind the existing mainstream civil rights movements in relation to disability. Although a single, unified movement may be out of reach at the moment, there are ways to better existing movements and work towards more inclusive civil rights.
One of the best ways to spread awareness is to show up and take part in whatever events you can. Most people don’t realize there are barriers at all because they’ve never had to deal with them on a first person basis.
Others may have heard of certain disabilities, or seen people with visible disabilities in public, but have never actually spoken to someone with said disabilities. Even if they have friends or families with hidden ability diversities, they might know nothing about them, because the topic isn’t broached.
By acting in solidarity with others of like mind, you’re bringing your experiences to light and helping to fix some of the problems within whatever organization is running the event.
This extends to the individual disability movements, too. It’s only by looking past our personal experiences that we can find commonalities with others. Perhaps that’s the only way to make a more unified group.
As someone in last week’s chat said, no one’s perfect, and we shouldn’t expect perfection from the
start. Every event or general movement has problems, but that’s where speaking up comes in.
If you want to take part in an event, but can’t due to poor accessibility, bring it up with the organizers. If you have suggestions of how to make it more inclusive, let them be known. People who honestly care about making their causes open to as many people as possible will make necessary changes.
Positive feedback is also helpful. Organizers don’t always know what works and what doesn’t, so knowing what does work can help them continue to build upon things that are working well.
If organizers refuse to work with you, you know it’s time to find another group to join. There’s no reason to stay silent about your experiences with them, either.
Learn from Others
While history has a lot to teach us about the mechanics of the various fights for equal rights, we can also learn from what’s going on today. Speak with people who face different challenges than you do, be they based on race, gender, religion or national origin. Differing culture outlooks can go a long way to helping us all figure out solutions to ongoing problems.
One of the best things that’s ever happened to me was the opportunity to grow up with kids of all kinds of ability levels. Although the special education system of the day wasn’t able to do a lot with my dyslexia, it did allow me to know all sorts of people from a young age.
The self-imposed segregation we’re taught from childhood is at the root of the ignorance still so rampant in society today. By breaking those cultural walls, we’re making a more accepting place for everyone.