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Disability and Climate Change: Plain Language

Original Version by Julia Watts Belser

Plain Language Translation by Reid Caplan

July 1, 2022

Why should we listen to disabled people about climate change?

Disabled people live in a world that wasn’t built for us. We face discrimination every day in lots of different ways. We deal with buildings that are not accessible, or that hurt our bodies to use. We deal with not getting the services and support we need to live our daily lives. We deal with people who won’t help us communicate in the ways that work for us. We deal with public transportation that is not accessible, or that doesn’t get us where we need to go. But these problems get even worse during natural disasters

That’s why disabled people understand better than anyone how dangerous climate change can be. We have to think about and prepare for an emergency in ways that non-disabled people don’t. Non-disabled people think the world will always be accessible for them. They take access for granted. But climate change makes things less accessible for everyone.

Disabled people know how to make the world more accessible. We already know about how to live in a world that wasn’t built for us. That’s why people should take our advice when they think about climate change.

As disabled people, we take care of each other.  We show each other that our lives have value, even when others hurt us or discriminate.  We are finding new ways to live together that can work for all of us.  We know we need to make choices to protect and care for the Earth.  We know we can work together to help each other and the world.  We believe we can make a world where we are all meant to survive.

Julia Watts Belser, “Disability and Climate Change.”  Plain Language translation by Reid Caplan.  Disability and Climate Change: A Public Archive Project.  July 1, 2022.

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