Allyship 101: Learning to be inclusive of all abilities

What is ”Inclusion”?

We all have different parts of ourselves that make up our social identity. Social inclusion is the process of ensuring that all members of society can participate fully in economic, social, political, and cultural life, regardless of certain aspects of their identity.1

According to the UN International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:

“Disability results from an interaction between a non-inclusive society and individuals.”

Thus, the challenges people with disabilities face are not resulting from the disability itself, but because of society’s lack of action to create solutions for PWD in the way we accommodate everyone else.

Challenges PWDs face in Singapore

Caregiving:  Much of the support offered for PWD is informal and relies on family dynamics such as relationships, size, and financial stability.

Education:  Inclusion in all education-related activities can be hindered by a lack of accessible spaces, unsupportive classmates and teachers (leading to isolation), or unaccommodating administration

Employment: This is a multifaceted issue. Access to traditional employment opportunities can be challenged because of lack of sufficient training available for PWD as well as biased views of employers/colleagues. “Sheltered workshops” are workplaces specifically curated to support employees with disabilities, but they do not offer enough livable wages or marketable skills.

Finances:   PWD often struggle to find consistent or substantial sources of income, which can put financial security at risk, especially when coupled with high healthcare costs.

Housing & Transportation: Often when making decisions on work and school, access to accessible transportation is a major consideration and potential hindrance to many people with physical disabilities. Because of lower salaries and dependency on caregiver support, it can be especially challenging for PWD to own homes.

Information provided by the ”People with Physical Disabilties” report by the Lien Centre for Social Innovation

What’s Allyship?

Being an ally is analysing how we can be more inclusive on (1) an individual, (2) a structural, and (3) an institutional level, and taking action to eliminate discrimination in those three areas.

Watch this video on what it means to be an ally!

Take the quiz!

1. Commission of the European Communities, 2003, p. 9

Spheres of Influence

1. Individual

  • Educating yourself on privilege and oppression
  • Deciding how you want to change

2. Friends/Familial

  • Influencing people closest to you
  • Engaging a challenging conversation or supporting a friend or family member with a disability

3. Social Institutions

  • Talking to your boss about building an accessible office space
  • Joining a campus organization for allyship

4. Community

  • Influencing people and institutions with whom and where you interact infrequently
  • Starting a social media campaign or organising a community event

Other resources:
To learn more about initiatives by Singapore Government click here.

Tips on understanding disabilities and interacting tips can be found here.

Videos to get a change of perspective:

  1. I'm not your inspiration, thank you very much | Stella Young

  2. 8 Most Powerful TED Talks on Disability

If you would like access to our presentation on allyship and inclusion of people with disabilities, please email us at


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