Understanding and Action: How to be a Disability Advocate
Many people do not get the support they require. For people with disabilities, even accomplishing daily tasks can be very challenging. This can make everyday life more complicated, and as a society, we have more work to do.
At Bona Fide Conglomerate, we know that everyone has unique abilities. However, people with disabilities often face barriers to using those abilities to the full. Physical, social, environmental, and organizational barriers can limit their opportunities to contribute in a meaningful way to their communities. Often, these barriers are unintentional. Simple adjustments to the physical workplace or the way coworkers discuss disabilities can mean the difference between turning everyday occurrences into anxiety-inducing challenges. Sometimes, a little perspective can help us understand what people with disabilities go through.
Common Challenges for People with Disabilities
Getting around can be a real challenge, depending on the nature of a disability. Many individuals with disabilities do not own their own vehicles, forcing them to rely on public transportation for everything from getting groceries to seeing friends and family. Obviously, this adds a significant amount of time to their daily routine and their morning commute. Public transportation has limitations in its service area, making some parts of the city completely inaccessible. Why not Uber, you may ask? The added expense and lack of vehicles that can accommodate equipment like wheelchairs often remove this option.
Employment for the Disabled
There is high unemployment rates for individuals with disabilities. These rates can stem from discrimination or from refusals by companies to provide reasonable accommodations to help them do their job. Could you imagine being fired from a job that you could do well, just because an employer didn’t want to install an affordable piece of equipment? Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence for people with disabilities.
Finding housing is difficult enough right now. Imagine being limited to places without stairs, are close to public transportation, and are affordable because you have limited employment options? It’s clear how quickly these challenges can stack up and negatively affect the quality of a person’s daily life.
Disabilities in Culture
It’s no secret that people are different, and those differences can be funny. Standup comedians make a living pointing out differences. But for people that are regularly deprived of common conveniences, treated with disdain, and denied opportunities, their disability is no laughing matter. People with disabilities can feel unwelcome and abused by thoughtless comments or hurtful remarks meant in jest.
Tips to advocate for those with disabilities
Inclusion for people with disabilities is an ongoing need. In a perfect world, there should be no barriers to that inclusion. But we can become advocates for adults with disabilities to help build an inclusive environment.
What is the role of an Advocate?
Broadly speaking, an advocate is someone who speaks up for a social group and advocates on their behalf when they are overlooked or mistreated. Advocating for those who experience significant injustices, like those with disabilities, is essential to a more inclusive society.
As a disability advocate, it’s important that those with disabilities have the opportunity to live their lives to the fullest extent.
How to be a disability advocate
Taking some simple steps can make a world of difference. Don’t know where to start? Here are some actions you can take:
Write to a government official when you see disability discrimination happening in your city, and encourage them to make changes that protect the rights of people with disabilities. For example, if government or healthcare buildings are not ADA compliant, people with disabilities may have trouble accessing vital services. Important offices lacking wheelchair ramps or elevators are a common example. Local officials may be able to help with the situation.
Campaign for change by spreading awareness of the challenges that people with disabilities face. If more people are aware, there will be more support for change. The more you spread, the better!
Be an advocate for disability rights by engaging in the community. Helping out a coworker in a practical way like carpooling or making yourself available to help someone get to a doctor’s appointment can make a real difference.
Bona Fide recognizes advocacy is key to helping people live full and satisfying lives regardless of their perceived limitations. And it’s amazing what a little time and compassion can do. You may not fix every problem in the world, but perhaps you can brighten someone’s day.