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The Subtle Struggle: Addressing Micro aggressions through Citizen Advocacy

In our society, individuals with intellectual disabilities often face significant challenges that hinder their ability to participate fully and equally in the community. These challenges are not only structural but also subtle and pervasive, manifesting through microaggressions that can deeply affect their quality of life. Citizen Advocates play an indispensable role in standing up for the rights of these individuals, ensuring they are respected, heard, and included.

 

Citizen advocacy pairs volunteers from the community with people who have intellectual disabilities (Protégés). These Advocates are committed to forming long-term relationships with their protégés, providing them with support and representation in various aspects of their lives. Their work is crucial in a world where people with intellectual disabilities might not have a significant support network of their own.

 

The influence of a citizen Advocate can be profound. Advocates ensure their protégés receive appropriate healthcare, educational opportunities, and social inclusion. They are also instrumental in protecting their protégés from neglect, abuse, and exploitation. By acting as a bridge to the broader community, Advocates help integrate their protégés into society, enhancing their quality of life and expanding their world.

 

The concept of microaggressions in the disability sector—subtle, often unintentional actions or remarks that discriminate against individuals with disabilities—was notably explored by Professor Sally Robinson. She describes how these seemingly minor incidents can accumulate, significantly impacting the self-esteem and everyday experiences of people with intellectual disabilities (Idle, Robinson, Fisher, Ikäheimo, Smyt, Yoon, 2024)

 

Citizen Advocates are uniquely positioned to address and educate others about microaggressions in the disability sector. These Advocates play a crucial role by observing and intervening when subtle, often unintentional behaviours that marginalize or undermine people with intellectual disabilities occur. By advocating for direct communication and inclusive practices, they help staff and others recognize their own micro aggressive behaviours and encourage meaningful changes to promote respect and dignity for all individuals.

 

Beyond individual advocacy, citizen Advocates play a critical role in raising public awareness about the rights and needs of people with intellectual disabilities. They challenge societal prejudices and push for systemic changes to ensure that people with disabilities can lead more autonomous and fulfilling lives.

 

 

Reference

 

Idle, J., Robinson, S., Fisher, K. R., Ikäheimo, H., Smyth, C., & Yoon, J. (2024). Conceptualising the everyday harm experienced by people with cognitive disability: A scoping review of microaggression and emotional and psychological abuse. Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability, 1–13. https://doi.org/10.3109/13668250.2024.2336076

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