Kimberly Lackey

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At Paraquad, my colleagues in the Public Policy and Advocacy Department and I get the opportunity to provide training to St. Louis businesses and organizations as part of our AccessibleSTL program.

One of our most popular offerings centers on disability etiquette and tips for interacting and working with people with disabilities. We refer to this particular training as Disability Awareness Training.

Recently, a co-worker received a question from an employee of one of the businesses we partner with. The person asked why the training has “disability awareness” in the title instead of “ability awareness?” After a brief conversation with a few of my co-workers, it became very clear that calling our presentation Disability Awareness Training had a purpose.

I could be wrong, but I think some people want to call it Ability Awareness Training instead of Disability Awareness Training because it seems like the former is more positive, inclusive language.

A large part of what we try to express in our training is that for many people with a disability, “disability” is not a negative word, but rather a part of their identity. Additionally, everyone has varying abilities, but not everyone has a disability.

The Disability Awareness Training offered through our AccessibleSTL program stays true to its name: it raises awareness of different types of disabilities and accommodations people with disabilities might need, and reinforces that a disability is a natural part of society.

Kimberly Lackey is the Staff Attorney at Paraquad. She can be reached at klackey@paraquad.org.

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