Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World
December 3rd is National Disability Day: a day to help everyone become more compassionate and understanding of the challenges faced by people with disabilities. The day doesn’t discriminate between mental and physical disabilities, and the spirit of the day is to ensure that all people in the world have equal opportunities for work, play health, and success.
In the United States, 61 million adults live with a disability. That means that 1 in 4 adults experience some form of disability. Every day we provide services, work alongside, and care for individuals with disabilities in many aspects of our lives. These disabilities vary in the way they manifest themselves and if they are visible or invisible. Regardless of disability, we as a society can support all of our members better through evaluating our decisions and actions to reduce and preventableism. There are many different ways that ableism exists, and some are much more prevalent than others. Regardless of the purpose and intention of our actions, we still must examine our actions and belief systems to continue to grow and learn. Our willingness to grow and learn allows us to serve our community and each other in a holistic way. I encourage you today to learn one thing about a new disability and evaluate your action to be sure that you are being inclusive and respectful of all individuals.
Inclusivity Committee Chair
Tips to Including People With Disabilities:
Language matters. Use terminology that is inclusive.
Treat adults with disabilities as adults. Baby talk is not appropriate.
Speak directly to people with disabilities, not at their aide or sign language interpreter. Talk at eye level; if necessary, sit in a chair to be on the same level as a person who uses a wheelchair.
Listen patiently and attentively to a person who has difficulty speaking; do not try to finish their thoughts for them.
Remember that a person’s mobility equipment is part of their personal space. Don’t move a wheelchair, cane, or scooter without their permission.
Not all disabilities are visible or apparent, but this does not make them any less real.
Be mindful that people with cognitive or psychological disabilities have varying ways of coping with their conditions.
Please note it is considered offensive to pretend to have a disability, and disability simulation experiences should be done for design/navigational purposes only.
If you are unsure how to interact with a person with disabilities, ask them!
December is International Day of People with Disability. It is a great opportunity to raise awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disability, and celebrate achievements here and around the world.