Disability advocates pushing ‘people first’ conversation

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Disability Advocates of Kent County says more than 70,000 people in the county identify with having a disability.

The organization will host an event Tuesday hoping to generate a community conversation about disabilities called Dis.is.

The focus of the event is to get people comfortable with talking about disabilities and learning about what a disability is.

One of the big things Disability Advocates of Kent County pushes is “ask first.” For example, if you have a question you want to ask someone with a disability, ask them if it’s okay to talk to them about it. Also before you just automatically help someone who looks like they may need help, ask them first if they need or would like help.

Disability Advocates of Kent County will also be pushing something called “people first,” putting the person in front of their disability.

Two big questions the organization said they will talk to people about Tuesday is what is a disability and why is it relevant in this situation.

They say through dialogue Dis.is hopes to give people with all types of disabilities an opportunity to express their voice and to educate and inform the community about living with a disability and the barriers which we have created that need to be taken down.

“Are questions bad? No questions are good you know. Let’s treat people without looking at their disability and without that label,” said Cameron Young, the board president at Disability Advocates of Kent County.

“We’re also asking the question: Why are you talking about disability. Why is it relevant? If Cameron is in a job interview, why are you talking about his disability? Shouldn’t you talk about the job and his abilities? That’s what’s relevant, not tell me more about your wheelchair,” said David Bulkowski, the executive director of Disability Advocates of Kent County.

The event will take place from 4-6 p.m. Tuesday at Kent District Library’s Kentwood Branch, located at 4950 Breton Road SE. It is free and open to everyone.

—————–Online:Disability Advocates of Kent County

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