Hi my lovely friends, welcome to the second Disability Allyship BONUS newsletter.
The bonus newsletters will be additional things that I want to talk about, that either don’t fit in the main newsletter or that can’t wait for the next Monday to go out. As this is additional work that I want to do for you, but does take more of my time, it would be great if you could buy me a cuppa here - Buy Me A Coffee. Or if funds a tight right now, a like and/or a share of this newsletter is also really helpful.
*A big shoutout to @Tessa_teaching from twitter for buying me a coffee AND for you kind and thoughtful comments about the newsletter.*
It is International Day of Person’s with Disabilities (IDPWD) today…
or as I like to call it International Day of Disabled People, cause I’m an identity-first kind of woman.
[Image: A pie, with a piece cut out that is sitting on a marble style plate, sits next to a framed board that has text on it, “equal rights for others doesn’t mean fewer rights for you— it’s not pie.” Below the framed board and next to the piece of pie is a cup of coffee. They sit on a bright pink background.]
I am starting this newsletter during a break of creating my keynote presentation for Algonquin College in Ottawa, Canada, due to be delivered today (I am writing this on the Monday, earlier this week, is this the closest I will get to time travel?). And as I was prepping for this keynote, a keynote about ableism, what it means, what it’s like to experience, and why we need to address it in society, I thought some of what I was preparing fit so well the theme of IDPWD this year. So I wanted to share my thoughts with you about why we have to continue pushing for the rights of disabled people post-pandemic.
I never used to celebrate IDPWD, I knew of it, but I used to let it pass me by, no more an important date than any of the other awareness days that are out there. But this year feels different, it feels very different. There are has been a subtle shift during the pandemic towards more accessible work. Suddenly flexible and hybrid working is becoming the norm, a form of working that disabled people have been asking for for decades. Online call and webinar platforms are expanding their tech to include better access, through captions and the like. And this flexibility is even impacting education to a certain degree, where zooming in from home for a day of lessons is possible, making access to schooling that much more possible for many disabled children out there.
The theme if this years IDPWD is “Fighting for Rights in the Post-Covid Era.” This year is about raising awareness of the challenges of being disabled during a pandemic, as well as celebrating the successes and opportunities that the pandemic has brought for disabled people. As mentioned above, rights have expanded due to the increase in flexible working, but on the flip side, other rights have diminished, particularly where medical intervention and support is concerned, i.e., at the beginning of the pandemic when DNR orders were placed on disabled people in hospitals without their or their family’s permission. There has also been an increase in animosity towards disabled and vulnerable people, such as through the trolling and verbal abuse on social media and face-to-face. Or even through the subtle behaviours of many people refusing to wear a mask when in public (and private spaces) to protect vulnerable others. This has meant that many disabled and chronically ill people have felt compelled (if not forced) to stay at home, thus diminishing their circle of accessibility and independence.
The fear and the excitement about the future is real for disabled people. There is a general air of hope in a community that generally doesn’t have much to hope for when it comes to inclusion and accessibility. And yet there is also an air of mistrust— will flexible and hybrid working remain a part of work moving forward, will social media change their ways (as they purport to be doing) in protecting people against online trolls and bullies, will disabled peoples rights simply slide into the dark oblivion of overt discrimination, never to be seen again?
I choose to err on the side of hope. I do this because of the organisations I have worked with lately and because of better and more authentic representation of disability I have seen on tv and movies lately. I am also hopeful because of discussions I have had with potential employers in Australia (yes, I am looking at a big move back to my origin country in a couple of months) who’s final questions have been openly about how I would like to work to see if they can accommodate my preferred style.
And so, on this International Day of Person’s with Disabilities, I call on you to consider the potential and the optimism, and think about how you can contribute to that. I also call on you to consider where you might not be getting it right, and learn to understand how you can make your organisation better and more welcoming of disabled people. We can make positive change, we can do this together, all it takes is some gumption, many opportunities to discuss and learn, and viewing allyship as a verb. For you to do active allyship every single day, that is what will make positive change in disabled peoples lives.
Why not follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin (I’m not on Tik Tok yet, frankly that platform scares the pants off me). Also, if you would like to book a speaker or consultant on all things disability, ableism, inclusion, accessibility, etc, pop me a line here - firstname.lastname@example.org