8 Ways to Educate Yourself on the Experiences of People with Disabilities

As a society, we have created a world where people with disabilities are often ignored or not considered when infrastructure is built, laws are put into place, and educational curriculums are planned. This is a problem in society that must be solved and it starts with each individual. Many people do not have an understanding of the lived experience of people with disabilities because they do not know anyone who has one or they don’t realize that people in their life are differently-abled. 

There is always more to be learned about this community and as social media and other educational resources become more widely available, there are many ways to learn about different types of disabilities and how you, as an able-bodied person, can make other’s lives easier. Read below to discover eight ways to educate yourself on the experiences of people with disabilities. 

Read Books and Content from People with Disabilities

There are many writers out there from authors to bloggers who are releasing insightful content about disabilities every day. Reading articles and books written by people who have experienced inequality in everyday society can give you a new perspective on how you move from place to place on a daily basis. This kind of reading material will help you to have empathy for those who have to advocate for themselves to be functioning members of society. 

Volunteer at Local Centers for People with Disabilities

Immersing yourself in the worlds of people who live vastly different lives from your own is a great way to gain perspective and learn from them. A great way to do this is to volunteer with people with disabilities to help them with everyday tasks or take them on excursions. There are many types of NDIS providers in Gold Coast communities who are ready and willing to participate in all kinds of enriching activities to help people with disabilities. Once you find one of these providers, you can begin the process of becoming a provider yourself so that you can educate yourself further. 

Follow Influencers with Disabilities on Social Media

Social media is one of the top ways in which people get their information these days and although there is a lot of nonsense out there, disability advocacy on social media is a great resource for people who want to learn more. Top influencers like Lucy Edwards, Spencer West, and Alice Wong give dynamic perspectives of their disabilities from blindness to living with a wheelchair. By watching their videos and reading their posts, you will learn more and more every day about what it is like to live with a disability.

Watch Documentaries About Lived Experiences

Documentaries are a great way to get a peek into people’s lives and understand how they fit into the world. By watching documentaries created by or about people with disabilities, you can develop a better understanding of different kinds of disabilities and how they are presented to different kinds of people. Their lived experiences will give you a better appreciation for your abilities and help you to pay more attention to everyday people on the street who have disabilities. 

Donate to Advocacy Groups and Attend Events

Advocacy is important work and can only be achieved if it is funded. Donating your time and money to advocacy groups and attending events like galas, marches, sporting events, and fundraisers will help you immerse yourself in the world of disability advocacy. You can interact with advocates from all over the world and gain a better understanding of what they are fighting for and why it is important. When you attend these events, make sure that you are listening more that talking and you approach all conversations with respect and a willingness to learn. Many times, there will be people with disabilities who give speeches in which you can learn a lot about their lives and what you can do as a citizen to help make their lives easier. 

Listen to Podcasts Hosted By People with Disabilities

On top of reading content and watching videos on social media, listening to podcasts that are hosted by people with disabilities is a great way to gain a better education about important issues in the community. Podcasts like The Disability Visibility Podcast hosted by Alice Wong delve deep into discussions with other people with disabilities. Listening to conversations between people who have different disabilities and how they share struggles is a great way to get a first-person perspective on how the world works from their point of view. Just like any other podcasts, listening to them is like listening to a conversation between friends and it will help you feel more at ease than something like a lecture or an educational seminar.

Take Courses or Attend Workshops

If you really want to go deeper in your education about the experiences of people with disabilities, you can sign up to take courses taught by experts and advocates. You can also find workshops in your local community centers run by people with disabilities who aim to bring more awareness to their cause. By paying for these courses and workshops, you are helping to contribute to the spread of awareness for different disabilities.

Have Conversations with People with Disabilities

The best way to truly understand the lived experience of people with disabilities is to spend time with them. As long as you are truly interested in their story and not talking to them for your own gain, many people with disabilities are glad to tell you about themselves. You may even know people in your life who have disabilities that you don’t even know about or that you choose not to discuss. This can make people with disabilities feel unheard and unseen sometimes, so it is important to always be a person who offers a safe space for them to air their grievances and share their experiences.

When we are children, we are taught that everybody is different in their own unique way, but as we grow, this kind of empathy tends to wane as we get caught up in our own lives. It is important to step back and acknowledge the struggles and lived experiences of others and make space for them in society. By educating yourself on the experiences of people with disabilities, you are adding to the awareness and advocacy of people who oftentimes do not have a voice.