Allies are people who consider themselves to be not disabled and who want to help us to achieve our liberation ourselves and not on our behalf. A special group of allies are the parents, children, friends, lovers, and spouses of people with disabilities who themselves suffer much of the oppression by "connection." Also our allies are people who have chosen a professional interest in disability. Historically some of these people have been put into roles, which are oppressive to us. This does not negate their alliance or potential alliance. Our natural allies include all members of other oppressed groups.
What We Need from Our Allies
1. We need people who consider themselves non-disabled to explore their feelings about their bodies, (the ways they learn and think differently), their experiences of being ill, of being made to feel "different" in any way, of their reactions to people with disabilities, and of their fear of becoming physically less able themselves.
2. We need listening while we express our hopelessness, pain and frustrations. (Only when we have thoroughly discharged these feelings will we be able to move successfully to a thorough celebration of ourselves and our lives.)
*Remember that the expression of feelings is not the "hurt", it is simply the expression of the hurt. We have all felt hurt and never showed it to anyone. Part of humans' natural healing ability is expressing feelings to another who listens with respect and patience, not needing to "fix" us or hurry us off our feelings. It is a powerful gift to let someone be honest about how they are feeling without judgment, in confidence, knowing the sharing is the healing.3. We need our internalized oppression interrupted. This may mean recognizing it when we do not.
*(Interrupt us if we speak degrading about ourselves or expect too little accommodation for our disabilities. Remind us that it is the oppression talking or preventing us from taking action. Encourage us to "act outside the oppression" by speaking well about ourselves and each other, by acting boldly and powerfully, by taking ourselves seriously.)4. We need support to love and encourage each other to tackle our own goals, ideas, and dreams; i.e., our counselors, family, and friends must not collude with any patterned divisiveness between us or act on their own feelings of being "left out."
5. We need to be touched lovingly and with awareness in order to contradict the massive invalidations we have been given of our bodies.
6. We need to have the highest expectations made of us.
7. We need to have our allies join with us in our demand to be included in all events which at present means solving the problem of access (for example):
A. By making all venues accessible to people with mobility-impairments;
B. By the provision of sign-language interpreters whenever necessary;
C. By making literature and important information available to people with visual disabilities; and
D. By not wearing strongly scented perfumes, deodorants, hair sprays, after- shave, etc.
Our liberation will require the challenging of all facets of our oppression, and in particular the resulting internalized oppression, i.e., coming together, noticing how we feel about it and expressing that to others; and overcoming any divisiveness between us; recognizing the cause of our mistreatment as oppression; recognizing our right to exist, to have feelings, to be loved and to love; to participate fully in society and particularly in controlling our own lives, making allies and being allies to all other oppressed groups.
- Excerpt Taken from Arizona Bridges for Indepenent Living (ABIL) Peer Mentor Training Manual