Author: Skye Vanlanduyt

As a membership organization, Detroit Disability Power is leading the way in ending policy disparities in housing, education, employment, and transportation by building political power of the disability community. The organization itself is a community composed of “visible and hidden disabilities, race, ethnicity, age, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship, and economic status.” This wide range of inclusivity is representative of the inclusivity of the organization and the people they serve.

 

 

Detroit Disability Power

To join Detroit Disability Power, membership runs on a “pay what you can principle” to ensure anyone who wants to participate can do so without financial stress. Currently, the organization is comprised of 250+ activists with a hope of reaching 350 by next year. As a member, Detroit Disability Power highlights that members will “influence vaccine rollout policies which affect disabled individuals, ensure reproductive justice, raise city budget for disability services and programs, increase disability voter engagement, create better accessibility, and build a stronger network for the disabled.

Detroit Disability Power’s mission aligns with its members and community. The organization seeks to “leverage and build organizing and political power of the disability community to ensure the full inclusion of people with disabilities.” In action, the organization fulfills this through actively organizing and allying around local issues affecting disabled people and collaborates with other organizations engaging in work that affects people with disabilities.

 

 

Detroit Disability Power

In addition, the organization also works to facilitate Anti-Ableism Workshops for social justice organizations wishing to better understand the systemic oppression of disabled people and are committed to dismantling able-ism in their work.

The organization runs on five guiding principles in their work to provide disability awareness, policy, and education. First, they believe “disability is a normal/positive part of human diversity.” This allows for de-stigmatization and for disabilities to be viewed more positively.

Second, they stress “nothing about us, without us” meaning, their work sets out to “dismantle structural and cultural challenges” to accentuate the power and systems in people’s lives and their issues. Throughout its work, Detroit Disability Power emphasizes “organizing and serving people with diverse disabilities.” All disabilities no matter if their hidden or apparent are recognized and met with the same amount of care. The organization also recognizes “disabled people have other important identities, which affect our lived experiences and access to opportunity.” Their commitment to the identities of those they serve is solely focused on “intersectionalism” which allows for anyone no matter their race, class, gender, sexual orientation, citizenship status, religion, or other identities be recognized and met with the same equal concern and care. Lastly, the organization believes “true inclusion is revolutionary.” Meaning, not only are they improving and empowering the lives of disabled individuals but the community as a whole to be more “equitable. accountable, safe, and compassionate for all.”

Detroit Disability Power’s programs are vast and align directly with the organization’s mission. Its first program, Disability Access Consulting is part of their commitment to culture shifting. Access Consulting works as a fee-for-service program to help community members from different sectors develop skills and practices to create more accessibility in their offerings and operations. In the program, Detroit Disability Power works with organizations, cultural and academic institutions, business leaders, city officials, and policy makers to help make community practices more accessible. Their second program, Community Care Circles is a once-a-month support group for those with disabilities or chronic illness that need a safe place to heal, reflect, and feel supported in a group setting. This allows those who are struggling to also access resources, build community, and cope. The organization also has a dance ability group and a book club called “You Can’t Put Us Down!” Both groups serve as a way for members to connect, share interests, and network.

Detroit Disability Power also offers a wide array of resources including: COVID-19 issues, impact and vaccine access for disabled members and the community. This allows the organization to gain a better scope for how those affected by disabilities are impacted by the pandemic and whether or not they are receiving the right care and support. Detroit Disability Power also offers resources for voting, disability, ablism, and audism support, and social justice and campaign toolkits.

There are ways for the community to become involved with Detroit Disability Power’s work. The organization offers an Action Team which is a monthly group led by members of the organization that emphasizes accessibility and empowerment for participants wanting to advocate for affordable and accessible housing, education, health care, and voting rights. The organization also offers ways for members and the surrounding community to act by providing insight to other value aligned organizations in Metro Detroit, Michigan, and in other parts of the U.S. The organization also offers community events throughout the year that promotes conversations around intersectional disabilities, Queer Pride and disability, and health equity, and anti-ableism.  To find out more information about Detroit Disability Power and their work, please contact: info@detroitdisabilitypower.org.