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4 Ways To Be Inclusive of People with Disabilities

Congratulations, you have made the first step and are committed to being inclusive! However, despite our best intentions, most of us don’t know HOW to be inclusive of diverse groups. There is a lot of learning, discussion, and action that needs to take place in order to be inclusive to all!

myTEAM TRIUMPH Race Day Photo

Did you know that one billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability? Despite that, people with disabilities are often left out of discussions around inclusion. They face various forms of social, cultural, and even legal discrimination.

It is time to be the change we want to see and turn good intentions into proactive behaviors.

Here are some actionable ways to be more inclusive toward people with disabilities:

1. Avoid Using Ableist Language

Unfortunately, many terms or phrases that are used when referring to the disabled community can be harmful, demeaning, or dehumanizing. Using more inclusive language is a small step to ensuring an inclusive environment.

For example, words like “Handicapped” and “crippled” are some common descriptors to avoid. Instead, it’s often best to use either Person-first language or Identity-first language. Person-first or identify-first language is equally appropriate depending on personal preference. When in doubt, ask the person which they prefer.

Person-first language emphasizes the person before the disability, for example “person who is blind” or “people with spinal cord injuries.”

Identity-first language puts the disability first in the description, this would be words like, “disabled” or “autistic."

List of negative phrases that we can avoid with replacements that can be used instead:

2. Treat Disabled People with Dignity and Respect

This may seem like a "no-brainer" for some but often times people with disabilities do not get treated by society with the same dignity and respect as their able-bodied counterparts.

Simple ways to ensure you are respecting the dignity and worth of the disabled community:

  • Speak to them directly instead of speaking to a companion or carer.

  • Ask questions and wait for a response, even if it is not immediate.

  • Be patient and don’t rush them if they need extra time to respond.

  • Offer assistance if needed, but let them decide if they want or need it.

  • Avoid making assumptions about what they can and cannot do.

  • Acknowledge that they have the right to make their own decisions.

  • Respect their privacy and don’t ask intrusive questions.

  • Be understanding of communication difficulties and don’t ignore or disregard them.

  • Avoid giving unsolicited advice or making judgments.

3. Educate Yourself on the Issues of the Disabled Community

Educating yourself on the disabled community will allow you to be an active member of advocacy and inclusion. Educating yourself can look different for everyone.

Steps you can take to educate yourself about disability inclusion:

  • Read books or articles written by disabled authors. List of 20 books by disabled authors.

  • Follow social media accounts and blogs that discuss the daily struggles of disabled individuals. 6 Disabled Activists to Follow

  • Participate in workshops and conferences that focus on the disabled community.

  • Watch documentaries and films that feature disabled characters and explore their unique perspectives.

  • Attend events and rallies that are organized to promote awareness and support for the disabled community. myTEAM TRIUMPH Events.

  • Educate yourself on the laws and regulations related to disability rights.

  • Speak with activists and organizations working to advance the rights of disabled individuals. Advocacy groups for people with disabilities.

4. Remember that a Ramp is the Bare Minimum

When we are able-bodied we don't find ourselves thinking about basic accessibility to everyday elements like signage, mobile apps, public transportation, restaurants, bathrooms, sidewalks, etc. However, as a society, we have to remember that putting in a ramp to make life accessible for people with disabilities should be a bare minimum.

Accessibility for People with Disabilities:

  • Install tactile paving on sidewalks and other public grounds to help people with visual impairments identify paths and avoid hazards.

  • Install automatic door openers in public buildings and businesses to make entering and exiting easier.

  • Provide Braille and audio signage in public places to help people with visual impairments navigate.

  • Adopt universal design standards in all spaces

  • Offer interpreters and support staff in public events to help people with hearing impairments participate.

  • Ensure accessible websites and mobile apps that are designed to be compatible with assistive technology.

  • Provide accessible housing opportunities for people with disabilities.

  • Implement policies and laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities.

Join the myTEAM TRIUMPH mission

At myTEAM TRIUMPH, our mission is to build inclusive communities for people with disabilities. We compete in endurance events around the state of Wisconsin and ensure that everyone is able to cross that finish line. We not only compete in races, but we also create friendships through weekly social outings and fun events.

If you want to get involved or donate to the cause please do so! We are always so grateful for any contributions. At the end of the day, it takes a TEAM to TRIUMPH.

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