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Disabled people want to be included in fun activities with abled-bodied people but often we aren’t because people assume our abilities and don’t ever think to invite us. You would think that it would be better within families but often it’s not and can be worse because close friends tend to think that knowing someone with a disability makes them an expert. I think a vast majority of the time abled bodied people do not include disabled people in their plans because they are not disabled and aren’t always thinking about barriers or just don’t know how to be inclusive. As a disabled person, I know when people are intentionally not including me in things and it’s frustrating to have to come to the reality that I am not going to be included in a lot of things because of my disability. I like to be included in fun activities with my abled friends but a lot of the time I’m not because my disability doesn’t affect other people and people aren’t always thinking about the barriers, I face every day. It is not hard to be inclusive of the disabled community and sometimes I think people ignore accessibility because they think it’s going to cost them thousands of dollars. In this post, I am going to talk about simple things people can do to be more inclusive of the disabled community.
Ask disabled people -If you know me well you might be able to give someone a better science lesson on Spina Bifida than I ever will be able to but even though you know a lot about my disability it doesn’t make you an expert. I don’t expect able-bodied people to understand accessibility to the extent a disabled person does but when you don’t know it’s as simple as asking a disabled person. I don’t expect my abled-bodied family to nail accessibility every single time and most of the time they get it dead wrong and that is okay, but it wouldn’t kill you to ask me every once in a while, instead of assuming that you know it all! The biggest problem we have in today’s society is that people are assuming that they are experts on a disability because their loved one happens to be disabled and no one is asking actual disabled people questions about disability-related issues. If you want to be more inclusive talk to disabled people because abled-bodied people do not understand how frustrating barriers are to the extent that a disabled person who lives through those barriers does.
Check the accessibility– I do not expect my family to be experts on accessibility but I do hold them to a higher standard than I would a total stranger because you know me, and I would hope that I am teaching you something about accessibility. When I go to an event with friends, I don’t blame them for the lack of accessibility if they were told that the venue was accessible but unfortunately that is not always the case and sometimes people don’t bother to ask. If you have just one disabled person attending your event it’s important to them that you check the accessibility because not all disabled people can walk up a flight of stairs and wouldn’t be able to attend without a ramp. Accessibility is not a luxury for disabled people but it’s a necessity and it’s important that you check the accessibility because when you don’t bother to do even the most basic accessibility you might as well put a sign on your door that says, “disabled people aren’t welcomed here.”
Invite us anyway– As a disabled person I am not invited to a lot of things even within my own family because my disability limits my ability to do certain activities and people think that they don’t have to ask when they know what my answer is. Disabled people want to be invited even if you know we will decline because it shows that you were thinking of us and when you don’t invite disabled people it makes us think that you didn’t want us there to begin with.
Have an alternative activity There are going to be times when I can’t participate in activities with my abled sisters because my disability limits my ability that skill and it’s okay to do fun things without disabled people sometimes. If you are thinking about inviting me on a trip but didn’t because of its lack of accessibility it’s not acceptable to say, “Oh well I guess you can’t attend” and do it without me. Find another alternative activity that your disabled friends can participate in when it’s not accessible whether that be completely changing the activity or doing something different with them on another day. I don’t blame abled-bodied people for wanting to do things that are not accessible but it’s completely unacceptable to not ever include disabled people and is the reason why many of us struggle with accepting our disabilities because we have to live in a world designed for abled- bodied people and sometimes if feels like we can’t do anything.
Disabled people want to be included in activities with their abled-bodied friends but often we aren’t because that activity might be impossible for us, or abled-bodied people are just not thinking about barriers because it doesn’t affect them. When you are disabled sometimes you are isolated from the rest of society which is not acceptable because disabled people have feelings too and just want to do things like everyone else but often, we can’t. I don’t expect able-bodied people to be experts on accessibility, but I do expect you to try to be inclusive because when you forget about the disabled community it makes disabled people have a harder time accepting their disabilities because it makes you feel like you don’t belong. When I am not invited to things that my abled-bodied friends are I don’t always call people out on it, but it does always bother me even if I don’t say anything and makes me think that you didn’t want me there to begin with. It’s not hard to include disabled people and all it takes is asking a disabled person what they would need to make something possible. How do you think abled-bodied people can be more inclusive of the disabled community?
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