[Image description: An aqua blue background with black text that says "Happy International Day of People with Disabilities!"
Below the text is: a blue-attired person tan skinned person with black curly hair in a wheelchair with a speech-generating device; two hands using sign language; a silhouetted blind person with sunglasses and a white cane; the neurodiversity rainbow infinity symbol; a light brown service dog with a red vest and leash; a person using an AAC device; a person in a green sweater and purple head scarf signing; and a person with shoulder length brown hair wearing an oxygen mask.]
Happy International Day of People with Disabilities!
Today, we're speaking out about the importance of approaching disability from human rights and disability justice lenses. 'Nothing about us without us' and intersectionality are two frameworks we must use to reflect on this day within the context of the Black Lives Matter movement and the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting many inequities, not only ableism.
Disabled community is diverse with disabled people coming from many different sites of additional privilege and oppression. We form one-fifth of the world's population. Disability crosses borders, genders, races, ethnicities, classes, faiths, sexual orientations, and body sizes. The world of disability is as diverse as the global community.
Yet around the world, we face similar issues: inaccessibility, segregation, institutionalization, seclusion, sterilization, exclusion, discrimination, homelessness, police brutality, incarceration, poverty, abuse, and the assumption that our lives are not worth living. Ableism affects us all.
'Nothing about us without us' means 'nothing about us without ALL of us', including disabled people historically and continually forgotten and excluded from disability movements.
Working toward collective access and collective liberation means then working towards racial justice, environmental justice, decolonization, feminism, police abolition, anti-capitalism, 2SLGBTQIA+ justice, and anti-oppression in all forms, as they are all part of an intersectional disability justice movement.
The International Day of Disabled Persons is a day where we ask again, who is being left behind? Who is most vulnerable to ableism, eugenics, institutionalization, state violence, torture, and abuse?
Who do we still have to work to not just support, but to work alongside, whose voices we must elevate rather than silence?
How do we create communities of care and mutual aid that do not perpetuate further oppression?
As a grassroots autistic-led organization, Autistics United Canada is trying to put these values in practice. We are ever growing and ever learning. We are struggling together to build a just movement for all disabled people.