How to Foster Meaningful Connections with Disability Advocates and Organizations

The most vital component of achieving social justice is centering the leadership and perspectives of marginalized communities. Funders must actively forge meaningful connections and partnerships to honor the disability rights and justice mantra “nothing about us, without us.”

How can we begin to develop strong relationships with the disability community?” 

The list below offers suggested starting points for outreach. Note that while some of these suggestions may not be specifically disability-led, they can be resources to help you directly connect with disabled people on both local and national levels. 

Key things to consider while reaching out to the disability community:

  1. There are more than 1 billion disabled people worldwide, and each person has a different disability experience based on numerous factors, including the type of disabilities they have and the overlapping identities they hold. No single person or organization can speak for the whole of the disability community. This is why it’s crucial to diversify your outreach!
  2. It’s important to prioritize engaging with organizations led by people with lived disability experience. The Disability Rights Fund describes these as “Disabled persons’ organizations,” which are representative organizations or groups in which people with disabilities constitute a majority of the overall staff, board, and volunteers in all levels of the organization.
  3. The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is more than double that of non-disabled people. When consulting with disabled people and disability-led organizations, be sure to compensate them fairly for their time and insights.

Starting Points to Connect with and Learn from the Disability Community

This list is provided for informational purposes only and does not represent endorsement by the Disability & Philanthropy Forum.