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Potato Book Rec: Demystifying Disability

Calling all communicators! When you think of diversity, equity, and inclusion, what do you think of? Most companies and organizations think their inclusivity bases are covered, but they often forget about the world’s largest minority group: folks with disabilities. 

As communicators, it’s crucial that we know about our audiences so we can communicate authentically and respectfully to them. With this in mind, the Small Potatoes Communications bookworms have a recommendation for you.

Demystifying Disability book cover

Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally by Emily Ladau is the perfect place to start if you’re trying to be a better, more inclusive communicator. Ladau, a disability advocate, explains that progress is a practice when it comes to making the world a more accessible and welcoming place for individuals with disabilities. Part of that is how to communicate to and about individuals with disabilities. 

Though Ladau explains different methods and terms to know when communicating with individuals with disabilities, she places one rule above them all: always ask the person. She goes on to say that every disabled person’s lived experience is different, whether their disability is visible or invisible, so it’s important to respect that identity in referring to them. 

I think of it this way: when writing about folks in the LGBTQIA+ community, asking a person their pronouns is perfectly acceptable and helps get the conversation off to a good start. For individuals with disabilities, it is our job as communicators to bring that same accommodation and respect for their identities. 

Another great reason all communicators should read this book (besides every part of it) is how Ladau lays out the “Dos and Don’ts of Disability.” She answers questions the reader may have been afraid to ask, all while providing practical ways to make interaction and existence more accessible.

I could go on, and on, and on about Ladau’s cadence and humor and about her ability to break down the confusing and perhaps unfamiliar. I am, however, supposed to keep this under 500 words, so I will wrap up: All communicators, both professional and amateur, have a duty to their audiences and subjects. Part of that duty is authenticity, which means we’re often learning as much as possible about our subjects and audiences to really understand them. With more than 42.5 million Americans identifying as disabled or having a disability, it only makes sense to ensure they’re included in our communications, too. And if that feels overwhelming, that’s okay – because Emily Ladau has us all covered. 

I bought Demystifying Disability at my local bookstore, but you can find it at major booksellers, including Amazon. When you’re finished reading, come back here and share something you didn’t know before (because learning is a part of the progress!).


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