People with Disabilities have been fighting for their right to be heard, both in their own lives, as well as in the greater community. This fight continues to this day and I want to bring their voices and needs to the forefront. Having direct input in one’s life has a clear effect on overall health, well-being, and quality of life. Learn how you can have an impact on the enhancement of individual lives, and the community, as a whole.
What does being an ally and reducing ableism look like?
Being an ally looks like fighting against bullies, creating awareness, being assertive, and getting your point across effectively. It’s one way of ‘amplifying community voices’. State their case like it is your case.
While interviewing a disabled substitute teacher she said, ‘I think it is important to be able to speak up and explain our physical challenges to co-workers and others around us. As a substitute teacher, I just talk to my students and co-workers about my challenges and explain what my life is like as someone who uses crutches. I have found that people are much less likely to have “ableist” opinions if I share my story first.’
That is what reducing ableism looks like.
How do we get there?
Don’t be a sceptic!
Ask questions. Never assume.
Think before you speak.
Don’t judge by appearances.
Get social workers, carers, nurses, doctors and family involved.
Your Self Advocacy Toolkit
Self Advocacy is helping you to speak up for yourself and your rights. Sometimes you just have to make them listen! http://www.advonet.org.uk/.
In part, this is about listening to the voices of those with Disability & Chronic Illness, as they are the experts of their experiences. https://linktr.ee/ashleekelly_iammeblog?fbclid=IwAR0K_licUZMa4YuRqfTXOinH4Dn6UhBspGseLR8X1ftMd_ZUCEEKwkbHBcQ
Self Advocacy in Goal Setting
Effectively address self advocacy in learning or therapy programmes. Self advocacy is a learned skill.
Unintentional Ways to Discourage Advocacy
Bribing is one way to discourage self advocacy in childhood. Masking is another way to discourage self advocacy in adolescents. This includes:
- Loss of identity
- Suicidal thoughts
- Stress and Anxiety
- Hand controlling techniques. This makes them feel helpless. This raises concerns about consent. According to statistics, persons with disabilities are more vulnerable to victimisation than people without disabilities. Self Advocacy is a Life Saving Skill.
- Don’t Panic
How can we support self advocacy?
- No means No!- Respect the No.
- Pulling their hand away.
- Shaking their head. Non verbal cues.
- Communication is key. Sign language also works.
- Follow their passions.
- Strengths based approach. Instead of asking, ‘What’s Wrong’ ask ‘What’s working Already?’
- Make space for them to be a decision maker.
Include goals focussed on:
- Emotional Regulation
Set up meetings for accountability when promises are made. This includes the education system. This includes integration in the mainstream education system instead of special schools. Special schools still have their place in society but integration is better for the sake of fairness and inclusion.
It’s all about Empowering Yourself. I remember as a College student complaining to the directorate of college about discrimination. The learning support department didn’t seem very efficient to me. IEP meetings can also be a pain. This also encourages disability representation.
Speak with Me Not for Me!
I agree with this video because some people think we’re irrelevant and treat us like we’re invisible. Especially us wheelchair users. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGxVz2jijK8.
Support Self Advocacy for Loved Ones.
Individuals with intellectual disabilities deserve a seat at the table! Just because someone can’t talk doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to say. Freedom of speech or expression shouldn’t be a challenge. Advocacy includes speaking up on other people’s behalf. This could also cover unemployment amongst people with disabilities.
This may include:
- Behavioural Support Plans
- Person Centred Passports
The service that supports you
This should include a Recruitment Policy, Culture and Structure of an Organisation, and Consultation Process.
There should also be a Partnership Board co-chaired by someone with a disability. It helps to change policy.
Seniors and Self Advocacy
Encouraging seniors to think about their needs and wants to advocate! This includes refugees.
It raises consciousness and helps to organise seniors and local communities. Goals of advocacy should effect change in attitudes, policies, services and actions.
- Charter of Rights in Bermuda: https://www.gov.bm/articles/bermudian-charter-rights-and-responsibilities-elderly-and-adults-need-long-term-care-and.
Their needs may include welfare, they may want to work beyond retirement age or become an entrepreneur. Access to healthcare.
Seniors can be or feel marginalised.
Self Advocacy Skills
- Be assertive vs Aggressive
- Be direct
- Be intentional
- Be accurate
Emotional Needs- Social Isolation
Tips for Advocacy
- Be Persistent
- Build Effective Coalitions
Advocacy also includes petitions, protests, lobbying, placards, propaganda, elections, party politics, and pressure groups. Being an advocate makes you an agent of change.