How to be an Ally!

Want to be an ally to a person with a disability? Here are some suggestions!

The Three A’s of Allyship


Flyer describing ALLY acronym for people with disabilities - Acknowledge, Learn, Leverage, Yield
  • Listen up! Acknowledge and respect individual experiences with disabilities.
  • Learn and practice person-first and identity-first language: “A person with a disability,” and “A disabled person.”
  • A service animal (such as a guide dog) cannot be pet or played with when it is working. Such action confuses the animal and potentially endangers the individual the animal is assisting.
  • Even if you think you are helping, do not push, grab, or lift a person’s wheelchair without their express consent.
  • If a person who is blind asks you to guide them, offer your elbow- do not grab their arm.
  • Language matters! Recognize that there may be language those within a group use, that should not be used by those outside the group. For example, a person with a disability may self-identify as "crip" but that doesn't give others permission to use the same term.
  • Support the voices of people with disabilities. Follow them on social media and invite them to speak at events.


  • Avoid pity! When we view someone with a disability as inspirational or deserving of pity, we are denying that person their own human agency and individualism.
  • Be aware of common microaggressions and work to eliminate them from your language and actions.
  • Choose media that authentically casts individuals with disabilities.
  • Consider supporting brands and businesses led by individuals with disabilities.
  • Step back! Allow people with disabilities to voice their observations on barriers.


Digital image describing the Anatomy of an Ally.
Image courtesy – Tennessee Occupational Therapy Association
  • Be knowledgeable about what bias looks like, and be empowered to report it.
  • When you’re having a meeting in Zoom, be sure to always enable the captioning.
  • When you’re giving a presentation, and your slides include an image, describe the image so someone who may not be able to see it can understand your point.
  • Learn how to make your social media posts accessible:
  • If you are a professor, include a statement in your syllabus informing students how to access accommodations at Rutgers. Here are some examples:
  • If you notice an accessibility barrier such as a ramp covered in snow, blocked accessible parking, a broken elevator, or a door opener not working, be a Barrier Buster and let someone at Rutgers know:
  • If you are recording a video, make sure captioning is available. Numerous video platforms, such as YouTube, now include auto-captioning to make this easier.
  • Have emergency and response plans both ready and inclusive for people with disabilities.
  • Call out ableist language or actions when you are witness to these behaviors.


Allyship is a process! Know that you will make mistakes. When you do, own it, apologize, and try again.