There is nothing about us without us.

9 Feb, 2015


This powerful statement was reiterated in a conversation recently with a person that works at an organization that serves people with disabilities. First used in association with the disability rights movement, this saying now has meaning across social justice movements.

A little history, from Wikipedia

“Nothing About Us Without Us!” (Latin: “Nihil de nobis, sine nobis”) is a slogan used to communicate the idea that no policy should be decided by any representative without the full and direct participation of members the group(s) affected by that policy. This involves national, ethnic, disability-based, or other groups that are often thought to be marginalized from political, social, and economic opportunities.”

It is not a new idea – as a political motto it has been used since 1505 in Poland and No Taxation without Representation was a familiar slogan of the American Revolutionary War. Yet this critical message is ignored time and time again, leaving out the voices of those who know best what their lived experiences are like, what their needs are, what is most important to them.

Further, “The term in its English form came into use in disability activism during the 1990s. James Charlton relates that he first heard the term used in talks by South African disability activists Michael Masutha and William Rowland, who had in turn heard the phrase used by an unnamed East European activist at an earlier international disability rights conference. In 1998, Charlton used the saying as title for a book on disability rights. Disability rights activist David Werner used the same title for another book, also published in 1998.”

As Emerging Strategies moves forward with its IMPACT:Ability training and outreach, it will be critical for us to include members of the disability community on our advisory board as IMPACT Boston did during both the development phase and now in the program delivery phase.

If you or someone you know would be interested in learning more, we’d love to be in touch!



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