You may have heard of the slogan ‘nothing about us without us’. This slogan was developed to educate decision makers in government and the medical establishment that they need to include disabled people in decisions that involve them.
At Spokz People, we take this seriously. We have a range of people presenting our work, disabled and nondisabled. The work however is developed and co-written as a group. And as you can see from our ‘About Us’ section, we have a diverse range of people involved at Spokz People CIC.
Our trainers draw on a mix of lived experience as either a disabled person, spouse or family member or lived experience of other minority groups, trauma or medical conditions. All of us therefore have experience of prejudice and stigma to varying degrees.
Disability doesn’t operate in a vacuum, we may also be female, or lesbian, or from an ethnic minority, or we may be highly educated and from an affluent background: we all are on different intersections of prejudice and privilege. It is our ethos that we can all actively work against the ‘them’ and ‘us’ to which human nature is inclined. At Spokz People we recognise that we can play different roles in helping the general population face their (un)conscious bias towards disability.
Much goes on behind the scenes
Many of us at Spokz People and in the disability community have complex lives and have to take time out from work for illness, health, surgeries etc. Some of us have speech impairments that make video/in person training a challenge, but written or online work feasible. Some have transport, PA or other issues that make attending live training difficult. Working with a variety of contributors helps to address these challenges and both nondisabled and disabled trainers and contributors offer trainees different experiences.
How different trainers may offer different insights
Disabled trainers offer great insights into what living with disability on a daily basis is actually like, challenging fantasies and fears. Disabled trainers can also discuss their own internalised oppression and ablism towards themselves and other disabled people, which in turn allows trainees to connect to their own experiences of ‘othering’. Nondisabled trainers allow a trainee who struggles to engage with difference to address their bias which they may feel too ashamed to explore with the person from the minority group. The nondisabled trainer can share things they got ‘wrong’, how they developed and addressed their biases, fears and awkwardness, thereby role modelling change. Both are valid and powerful training experiences and best used simultaneously or at different points in someone’s journey towards addressing (un)conscious bias.
Disability struggle is actually about human struggle with the myths of dependence, control and denial of the human bodies’ frailty Watermeyer (2013). At Spokz People, this is the main message underneath all our writings and trainings – that we ALL, disabled and nondisabled, struggle with these myths.
We are human
Even as a training and support organisation, we will get things ‘wrong’ from time to time. Sometimes not even ‘wrong’, but just a different view from the next person or perhaps using outdated terminology. Disability is complex and everybody’s experience with it different. We all have internalised oppression which is hard to shift and comes out when we least expect it. We try as an organisation to be humble to feedback, open to learning and recognise we are all on different paths towards equality.
Reach out to us!
There is a severe lack of disability affirmative trainers, therapists, supervisors. Sadly, like so many others who have experience but lack the confidence to share it, many disabled people experience ‘imposter syndrome’. Our hope is that at Spokz (our sister company) and Spokz People, we can use our organisations, networks, platforms and organisational and business skills to support and bring in as many disabled people/therapists and allies as we can for this lifelong fight.