Lessons in Advocacy

A lot has happened to me since the last time I have posted on this blog. I'm not going to waste valuable blog space boring you with a lot of detail, other than to say that certain things have happened which made me realize how important it is to continue this blog.

I won't go into specifics as to the events that sparked the desire within me to do this, although if you know me at all you probably know what they are. What I will say is that the last few weeks has taught me a great deal about disability advocacy, so I thought I would spend the next few hundred words talking about what I have learned. My hope is that anyone reading this can use these lessons as examples in their own advocacy.

The first lesson I have learned is that the general public does not always see disability rights as human rights. This is an incredibly sad thing for me as someone who has worked to advance disability rights for many years, I do believe, though, that many people out there do not place the rights of people with disabilities on the same level as other minority groups such as racial minorities etc.  Legally, we are afforded the same rights and protections as those groups. However, my sense is that a large part of society does not see it that way. In my most recent round of advocacy, I have encountered a range of these less-than-stellar attitudes and it has made me realize just how far we still have to go in this country when it comes to fairness for those of us lucky enough to be born with a disability. I will say here that disability rights are human rights and I am dedicated to demonstrating that until it no longer needs to be demonstrated.

The second thing that I have learned is how important it is to accept support from those who are offering it to you. The bottom line is that advocacy can be truly exhausting, and if you don't take those around you up on their offers support (whatever form it comes in) you are doing yourself a huge disservice. Over the last few weeks I have met so many amazing people through my advocacy and received such an incredible level of support for the issue from around the world. I even had the opportunity to meet one of the fellow advocates whom I have looked up to for many years. I have needed that support to keep going, and without it, I would have already faded. To all those who were there for me (you know who you are) thank you for showing me what a vital role the strength of others has in any advocacy initiative.

The last important lesson that I have learned through all of this is that issues are bigger than individuals. There is always going to be someone else, somewhere in the world, who has faced a similar or the same issue that you have. Because of that, issues can very easily move beyond one person’s struggle to be taken up by a group, a province or a country. I was amazed at how fast my particular issue moved beyond me, and it served as a reminder that I was never the only one fighting. You may be the only one with the voice or privilege to be able to pick up the fight, but it is never just for you.

If you are interested in disability rights and advocating for yourself or others, please get in touch with me. I would love to hear from you! While you are here, check out the rest of Disability Positive Consulting's website and let me know what you would like to see. Until next time, take care and happy advocating!