Monday, February 1, 2016

"Charity" That Harms.

Before you support an organization that claims to help disabled people, there are a few questions you should ask yourself:

Does this organization rely on disrespectful attitudes toward disabled people or the tragedy/charity model of disability?   Are they working to address ableism or are they contributing to it?

Does this organization actively include disabled people in the majority of decision making and leadership roles?  Or are disabled people tokenized? Remember: "Nothing About Us, Without Us!"

Are their events/conferences & "awareness" efforts inclusive of and accessible to disabled people? Are they inclusive to people of different socioeconomic, racial or cultural groups?

Does this organization confuse parent support with disability advocacy and disability rights/justice work?  Those are two entirely separate things and while parent support is important, if it is toxic (based on the tragedy/charity model of disability) it is actually harmful to not just the disabled person, but also to their relationship with their families, schools, and communities.

If the goals of this organization are empowerment of disabled people, what are they doing to make sure that happens?

Does this organization rely on "inspiration porn" to make you "feel good" about being a decent human to a disabled person?   Does it use stories about disabled people as props while centering the feelings of the non disabled people around them?

Does the organization spend the majority of their funding on helping disabled people have a better quality of life, more accessible communities, encouraging acceptance and working for disability rights/justice or are they more concerned with eugenics and preventing more disabled people from being born?

Not all "charity" is created equal and before you support an organization (or share certain content on social media, etc), it's important to ask these questions to make sure you are actually supporting disabled people and not just encouraging others to focus on how our disabilities make other people feel.

Image: orange floral patterned background.  Yellow text reads; "Before you support a disability organization, ask yourself: "is this organization working to address ableism or contributing to it?


  1. Such a great post. Thank you. I have a problem with charities that focus on raising money for the elusive cure, a cure that will never come, the cure that suggests we aren't good enough and need fixing. Yet the charity doesn't help focus on the every day - surviving bullying, forming a positive self esteem, finding employment.

    I wrote this last year, on disability poster children:

  2. I'm happy to see all the projects to make custom 3D printed prosthetics for children and adults. This is a great example of a "what do they need now" project instead of making limb regeneration the only goal.

  3. Hi,

    I was wondering if it might be possible to republish some of your blog posts on my disability site to expose them to a new audience with credit and link back of course. My site is: