Disability Justice is about recognizing the needs of disabled folks, creating self-advocates, and working together to bring about a more just system.
Self advocacy, a corner stone of Disability Justice, can be the difference between life and death for many people. It’s especially critical that a disabled person have the skills and opportunity to be their own self advocate.
This page will highlight a number of ways we can address self advocacy among those living with disabilities. Though, by no means will it be a comprehensive guide to everything needed for Disability Justice.
The road to self advocacy must include training for independent living, so one is not reliant on parent or family advocates. While not intentional, often times, parent or family advocates can impede the ability to learn life skills. Learning how to advocate for themselves earns lifelong benefits.
Sharing the existence of a disability with friends, neighbors, strangers, and/or government may be a very personal decision. This is why it’s important that many societal attempts at assistance be optional. A person should be able to choose whether to disclose their disability in order to self advocate for their own safety. A small sample of some disabilities that could benefit include:
- Autism – Some on the spectrum are averse to being touched. This can escalate an already tense situation with law enforcement, or hinder emergency care.
- Hearing impaired – An inability to follow instructions from law enforcement may be interpreted as a hostile act. Communication may be difficult. Emergency care may be hindered.
- PTSD – Knowing specific triggers could aid first responders to ensure a safe interaction.
One suggestion, to improve self advocacy, is to allow folks to have their disability on file with the DMV. In the event of an accident, emergency responders can run the license plate for conditions to look for.
Hidden disabilities can make it difficult and dangerous to use public transportation. Drivers may not be aware of a disability or may not be properly trained to assist. An option to disclose a disability to public transit drivers is another suggestion. Drivers having a list on hand to refer to could be very helpful in ensuring the safety of a disabled person, in case of an accident.
TSA screenings can be difficult for a disabled person to properly accommodated for their own safety. It’s been suggested that the initial screener simply ask “are there any disabilities you would like us to consider during the screening process?” This will give a self advocate an opportunity to alert them to any potential complications before they arise.