Tips and checklists for planning and running accessible protests and other actions.
Plan for Participation by People with Disability
Elly Desmarchelier shares about planning accessible campaign actions. This is an excerpt from her presentation to the Making Advocacy Accessible webinar, May 2023.
Transcript of the video clip:
I just want to say how easy it is to include people with disabilities, this is such a simple thing to do. It is about planning. It is about asking and it is about listening. That’s all it is.
Plan to include people with disability in your campaign. Plan that they’re going to show up to your march.
I remember going to May Day marches a decade ago. And it was like, oh my God, there’s a wheelchair here, what are we going to do, everybody freak out! But now they have different routes for people in wheelchairs, if you don’t want to do the full hill, like that changes everything.
Plan for people with disability to be there, ask questions. It’s okay to ask questions. If someone is disabled they’ve been asked way more intrusive questions than ‘how can I help?’ And then when you ask listen to the response. It might make you uncomfortable. You might instantly think we can’t do that but actually swallow it and think about it ruminate on it, try and think of a way you can accommodate it.
That’s as simple as it is: Plan, Ask, Listen. Then you will have an inclusive campaign and you’ll be lucky to have some really talented persuasive people on your side.
Nuts and Bolts of Disability Access
The Disability Team of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) works to bring more white disabled people into movements for racial justice.
Their Nuts and Bolts of Disability Access guide includes tips for planning marches, protests and actions.
Get intentional and creative about supporting folks involvement across the spectrum of capacity. Build opportunity for people with disabilities to be directive from the planning stages on through.
The guide recommends:
- Wherever possible make route information available up front and provide estimations for how long folks will be at assembly points, the time of departure and the time of arrival at destination – designate ‘join up, join in ‘ places or times that increase places of entry for folks who cannot be present right through or who cannot, in the case of marches, cover that distance.
- Depending on the action, be flexible around pace and length – consider having folks with disabilities , elders and those with children lead the march to literally ensure speed is to scale.
- Train up interested chapter members to be in PA (personal assistant) roles, to be available for folks with disabilities who want to participate and who need dedicated assistance to do that.
- Have the affinity, buddy, legal support etc. systems in place for actions to be welcoming and creative about supporting the involvement and leadership of folks with disabilities and illness.
- Build a self/ community care climate that isn’t based on the assumption of able – bodied life experience or presumption of individual independence For example, ensure your safety teams and crisis support people are experienced in providing support and advocacy for folks who live with emotional and mental health disabilities.
Ability Access/Disability Inclusion Checklist for Marches and Rallies
This checklist is written by Tara Ayres and hosted by Action Network. Tara Ayres coordinated disability access and rally programming for Women’s March Oakland.
The checklist includes these prompting questions:
- Is the march route accessible? Hills? Barriers?
- Are you considering independent access? No one should need to be pushed if they’re usually independently mobile.
- If there will be barricades between the sidewalks and the street, how will people with mobility impairments access the march route?
- If providing vehicles, are they lift- or ramp-equipped?
- If providing volunteers to help, are you training them on disability issues?
- Is there a designated accessible seating area so that folks who need to sit aren’t trapped behind standing people?
- Is there an accessible path of travel to get to the accessible seating?
- Is the accessible seating clearly marked/blocked off?
- If the rally/gathering is on grass, is there a paved path of travel to the accessible seating?
- Is there engaged space for those who can’t march, but want to participate?
- Consider creating official accessible viewing areas along the march route where people can display signs, etc.
- Making Your Activism Accessible
This guide was developed to support activists in making their spaces, events, meetings and communications more accessible, in order to ensure that everyone is welcome and encouraged to join a movement for justice in whatever way they can!
- How to make your social justice event accessible
Tips on how to make your next social justice event more accessible and inclusive.
- Accessibility: Introduction to Thinking about Events and Engagement
Introduction to thinking about accessibility engagement and events, providing a set of principles and key considerations.
- Justice, Diversity & Inclusion: Start Here
Find a comprehensive list of resources from The Commons Social Change Library on diversity, inclusion and solidarity in social movements.