Through my interactions as Ruby’s mom over the last 13 years, I have come to the conclusion that there are a lot of people who don’t know how to talk to, act around or speak about individuals with a disability. Whether it’s ignorance, lack of exposure, bigotry, fear, or unkindness, people with disabilities are often treated in ways that hurt them–and their caregivers–deeply.
–The time the checkout attendant told me she would pray for Ruby (because obviously to her she was less than perfect and needed to be fixed)
–Inappropriate personal questions asked about my child’s medical history by total strangers
–Every “I’m sorry” received when I told someone my child has a disability
–The staring…all. the. time.
–Every utterance of the “r-word,” whether a joke or an insult
–The time one of my higher ups told a short bus joke in a meeting and I had to fight back the tears in my eyes so I could remain professional
–Cruel messages and comments on social media made about my child’s appearance
These are just a handful of the experiences we’ve had. And in many ways, Ruby is shielded from them because of her vision impairment and developmental delays. But some individuals with disabilities experience this treatment firsthand every single day–and it’s extremely painful.
After receiving a particularly ignorant message on Instagram a couple of weeks ago, I realized that just sharing photos and videos of Ruby was not going to be enough to help some people understand how to treat individuals with disabilities. So, I took to my story and began sharing the first couple of tips that came to mind. I asked our amazing followers to send me their tips so I could share them as well.
Over the next 24 hours, we received more than 50 messages and I shared 27 tips to our story! Since stories disappear after 24 hours, I wanted to share them on this blog, where they can live forever. I realized that some of the tips posted on our story were redundant, so I have condensed the list down to 17. I hope you’ll share this list and download this PDF that you can email, print and post at school, meeting rooms, workplaces, libraries, and anywhere you think people would benefit from it.
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