When it comes to standing up for, and standing with, those with developmental disabilities are you doing it for attention or with intention? Are you an upstanding ally or are you simply a bystander?

| Rethinking ability: Representation matters >

Jennifer Hoesing is the Director of Development at DakotAbilities. She’s joined us to walk us through how we can make sure we’re working to make a difference as we round out Developmental Disability Awareness Month.

Jennifer Hoesing and Ashley Thompson on the set of KELOLAND Living
Jennifer Hoesing and Ashley Thompson on the set of KELOLAND Living

RELATED: Inclusivity and people-first language

Jennifer says to take your knowledge and turn it into action on the final day of Developmental Disability Awareness Month. Here are a few ways you could get started.

  • Start a conversation! We all have hobbies and passions, and that includes people with developmental disabilities. You’ll find a common thread and learn something about the way someone else experiences the world.
  • Remember that wheelchairs and other assistive devices are power. Andrea uses a wheelchair, and that wheelchair is an extension of her body. Respect the wheelchair as someone’s personal space and admire what it makes possible.
  • Celebrate success! We want to build advocates who see the strengths in people. Ask yourself, “am I celebrating what this person can do?” and if the answer is no, re-calibrate. You’ll get the hang of it in no time.
  • Amplify voices of people with disabilities. Seek out social media accounts that share a disability perspective. Like and share those posts.
  • Be an upstander, not a bystander. When you hear a comment that isn’t consistent with what you’ve learned, share your knowledge.
  • Planning an event? Think about if it is welcoming to people with disabilities. Is there enough room for a wheelchair to pass between tables? Are things accessible to those who might be using wheelchairs? Better yet, if you have an opportunity, include people with disabilities in your planning.

| How to be more inclusive of people with disabilities >

Nothing about us, without us

It means don’t just talk about people and imagine solutions that we think will work best for them – but rather, invite people with disabilities to the conversation. Jennifer said that’s how we learn and grow. That’s how we achieve more authentic representation for people with disabilities in our communities.

| How to communicate with people who are non-verbal >