S13E1 Beyond Ableism

In a world that often defines people by their limitations, disability services play a crucial role in fostering inclusion and promoting the capabilities of individuals with disabilities. Reaching a wider audience and sparking meaningful conversations is far less of a challenge. Podcasting as a medium might have been specifically designed for the purpose of dismantling the barriers of “ableism” and celebrating the true potential of people.

What is Ableism?

Ableism refers to a set of discriminatory beliefs and practices that devalue and limit people with disabilities. It can manifest in various ways, from physical barriers in infrastructure to negative attitudes and assumptions. By creating a podcast centred around or simply with the underlying premise “Beyond Ableism,” your service can actively challenge these stereotypes and promote a more inclusive society.

The Power of Podcasting for Disability Services

Podcasting offers an empowering blend of accessibility and reach, making it an ideal medium for disability services. Here’s how your organisation can benefit from this approach:

  • The Secret Sauce: The truly remarkable gift podcasting brings to disability services and more importantly, their clients is its audio format. No one can tell whether I’m lying immobile on a bed, sitting in a wheelchair and walking around a room with a lapel mic to relieve anxiety as I speak. Any “deficits” when viewed through an ableist paradigm are removed. The voice is all that matters in podcasting. Yes this still creates challenges for some but it is a powerful tool for smashing entrenched views of, in inverted commas, “The Disabled”.
  • Raising Awareness: Podcasts share stories, outcomes and expert insights on a wide range of lived experience. This raises awareness about the possibilities available for individuals with disabilities and entertains, educates and informs all listeners. The point is we all face challenges of some sort throughout life. Some people seem to have an easier run of things but we can never know unless we are those people. A disability service publishing a podcast focusing on the people they support do much to demystify the, again in inverted commas, “Disabled Community”.
  • Building Community: Podcasts create a sense of community and belonging. Listeners can connect with others, share experiences and feel less isolated. Your podcast acts as a platform for building a network of support across all levels of capacity. Diagnosed conditions are not relevant in chat scenarios. People are people interacting. Unfortunately a level of moderation will be required in these chats and other community building tools but that seems to be universal these days.

Crafting a Compelling “Beyond Ableism” Podcast

To maximise the impact of your podcast, here are some key considerations:

  • Format and Style: Choose a format that resonates with your target audience and is accessible to your “talent”. Your talent being your clients and staff. Interviews, panel discussions, storytelling or a combination of these can all be effective. Apple Podcasts app now creates transcripts to ensure accessibility for listeners with hearing impairments.
  • Content Focus: Identify the specific areas you want to address. Will your podcast focus on client wins? Curate content that is informative, engaging and tackles issues relevant to your audience. I would suggest four ten episode seasons a year for a really deep dive. Either on one individual’s journey to a success or a series of individuals all reaching similar goals.
  • Host Selection:  As I mentioned earlier, the audio format provides opportunities for individuals to host from just about anywhere. The technology is good enough to adjust to the person rather than the other way round. Zoom and I assume their poor second cousin, Teams meetings can be scraped for their audio so that co-hosts don’t need to be in the same room, building or even nation. Flexibility and creativity are the key.
  • Guest Speakers:  Consider these carefully. A show run by service users about their experiences might invite a staff member in to give their perspective on the steps taken to achieve an outcome or they might not. The whole season could be the service users and their experiences. Maybe a guest speaker could have a place in a debrief episode looking at how things were done and where improvements could be made but, again, consider any guest speakers carefully.
  • Promotion and Distribution:  Promote your podcast across your existing channels – website, social media and email newsletters. Ask your listeners to tell their friends! This truly is the best way to spread the word about a show. 

Beyond Ableism: Inspiring Stories for Your Podcast

Here are some inspiring story ideas to get you started:

  • Personal journeys: Feature interviews with individuals with disabilities who have overcome challenges and achieved success in their lives.
  • Success stories: Showcase how your disability service has empowered individuals to live fulfilling lives and achieve their goals.
  • Expert Interviews: Interview healthcare professionals, therapists and assistive technology specialists to provide listeners with valuable information and resources.
  • Policy Discussions: Discuss current events and policy changes that impact the lives of people with disabilities.

A Powerful Voice for Change

By underpinning your podcast with the ethos of “Beyond Ableism” or even using that as its title, your disability service becomes a powerful force for positive change. You educate, empower, advocate and entertain listeners and challenge preconceived mindsets, embracing a more inclusive world.