What being a disability ally means to me by Emily Tilley

Image description: Emily Tilley looks straight at the camera, with her face framed by short dark hair and glasses. She is wearing a beautiful pounamu and a dark coloured jumper.

In short, for me being an ally is about listening to disabled people and then listening some more - creating a space for their stories and views to be heard.

In my role as Communications Coordinator at Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA) NZ, I see myself as a conduit for information between DPA, our members and the wider community. I am constantly aware of my identity as an ally rather than as a disabled person and everything I do is done with recognition of this fact.

Disabled people are burdened with ableism at every turn but they are also burdened with having to continuously call it out. Being an ally for me involves being a person who calls out ableism and, when in spaces that do not have disabled people present, being a person who speaks up and points out that those voices are needed.

While the disabled community holds the knowledge of what changes need to be made to create a more inclusive society, there is a collective responsibility within the whole of society to ensure we are achieving this.

So I guess for me, my starting point for being an ally is to listen to the disabled people around me about what they want from me as an ally and to keep checking in that I am on the right path.