PERSPECTIVES | December 27, 2017

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True inclusion for people with disabilities requires that we work together to make life physically and socially accessible.

As you make your resolutions for 2018, consider these five ways you can support and advocate for inclusion for people with disabilities:
  1. PRESUME COMPETENCE - If you’ve met one person with a disability, you’ve met one person with a disability. Don't make assumptions about a person’s capability, regardless of what you may have heard about a disability.

  2. EDUCATE YOURSELF - Read up on the history of disability rights, how far we’ve come, and how far we have yet to go. Learn about the laws (ADA, IDEA) for people with disabilities who need accommodations in school, at work, and in life.

  3. RECOGNIZE INVISIBLE DISABILITIES - Disabilities (such as mental illness and autism) are not always visible. Try to give people the benefit of the doubt before making assumptions about their behavior.

  4. SPEAK DIRECTLY - Speak directly to people with disabilities rather than to their caretakers (if they have them). If there is something you want to know about their disability, ask them, and respect their answer (or their choice not to answer).

  5. LISTEN - Listen to what people with disabilities have to say; as the saying goes, “Nothing about us without us.” Everyone’s voice deserves to be heard.

  6.  
Get Involved
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VOLUNTEER - Volunteer for organizations and events that support people with disabilities.

VOTE - Vote for those whose policies support the rights of people with disabilities. Know your candidates!

SPEAK OUT - Attend community meetings on disability issues and help educate your peers.

SPEAK UP - If you hear someone speaking negatively about people with disabilities, say something! If you witness someone being mistreated or discriminated against because of their disability — at work, on the bus, in a store — speak up!