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Be an Ally to People with Disabilities

By Leslie Zeng – DDA Communications Canada Summer Jobs SFU Student

Are you looking to make a change this summer? Perhaps you want to go to the gym regularly or say ‘yes’ to things more often. But how about looking deeper and changing your perspectives or practices? After all, a healthy mind promotes a healthy body.

This summer, learn to open your heart and be mindful of those who have a harder time conquering life. Being an ally can be a simple job once you educate yourself on how to do better, and if you have gotten this far, you are already on the right track. Here at DDA, we want to share a few tips on being more considerate to the disability community:

We can often take for granted our convenience in navigating our daily routines. However, this accessibility is not the same for everyone. Accessible signs, menus, parking, and assistance are all features the public lacks. Now, imagine if you could not simply order food at a restaurant because braille menus are not available.

We can make a change to this by advocating for these aspects in businesses. By promoting accessibility through your conversations, you are encouraging the right standards and being a voice for those who may not have one. So, the next time you visit your local shops or restaurants, let them know your ideas on creating an accessible environment.

Verbal disrespect is common because it is easy. However, the impacts can be just as bad as physical disrespect. Being mindful of the way you refer to someone, or speak to them is crucial.

Patience in learning and understanding is one of the virtues we must often practice. By speaking the right language, you are contributing to multiple parts in one: educating others, fostering inclusivity, and reducing stigma. How do we learn the right language? Researching, being open-minded to learning from others, and or putting yourself in their perspective.

Living in an age of technology means having easy accessibility to resources. Websites, videos, and articles are always one click away. Nonetheless, being that resource for your fellow peers is one way to be an ally. Whether it may be reposting useful links or creating a post of your own, you are raising awareness and creating a positive environment for yourself and others.

These tips sure can be useful to know, but nothing changes without putting in the work. Reroute your perspective and use your privilege to help people with disabilities. So focus on the things that truly matter this summer and join us in being allies. Change starts here.