Something that we are asked frequently as an organisation working with families and individuals impacted by Autism, Down Syndrome and other developmental disabilities is how people can become better disability allies. While well-meaning, this term ‘ally’ holds a lot of confusion for people who want to speak up and advocate for this issue.
So, who is an ally? An ally is someone who supports a cause by learning more about it, speaking about it at the right forums and instances and most importantly, someone who shifts the spotlight on to those who are marginalised, under-represented or not heard or overlooked.
As per India’s latest statistics from the 2011 Census, 2.2% of the Indian population has a disability. In our country, there is not only so much of a need for allies but also many opportunities. If you are someone who cares deeply about disabilities (including any type of disability – physical or developmental or intellectual), this list is for you.
Here are some tips from the Nayi Disha team on how to be a better ally –
First off, you need to know more about the disabilities you want to be an ally for. Read on what the medical and legal definitions are, what the current laws allow, what the policies around disabilities in the country are and what are the current issues the community is dealing with. Only when you make an effort to involve yourself deeply can you speak well in support.
SHARE THE STAGE
Whenever you have the opportunity to share the stage or shift the spotlight on someone with a disability, take every opportunity to do so. You should never claim to speak on the behalf of those who are disabled and encourage authentic voices and conversations from inside the community.
BE INCLUSIVE AND PUSH FOR IT
As an ally, you will be part of situations where you encounter infrastructure, conversations, public policies, cultural trends that may be exclusionary. As an ally, it is your responsibility to not only speak up and push for inclusivity – it can be a push for better representation, inclusive laws and better dialogue and debate around issues. As an ally, lead such conversations and initiatives whenever you can.
SHOW UP IN ANY WAY
While it is difficult to be always physically present for everything, find your own way to amplify voices of people with disabilities – show up in your own way. This can by promoting events, talks, discussions – it can be connecting right people in your network, it can be amplifying messages in your network or any other way you like.
Most importantly, know that you will make mistakes. There will be a learning curve. But like all great things, being an ally for people with disabilities can be one of the most rewarding things you do.
If you have questions about Autism, Down Syndrome, ADHD, or other intellectual disabilities, or have concerns about developmental delays in a child, the Nayi Disha team is here to help. For any questions or queries, please contact our FREE Helpline at 844-844-8996. You can call or what’s app us. Our counselors speak different languages including English, Hindi, Malayalam, Gujarati, Marathi, Telugu, and Bengali.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that this article is for information purposes only.