Including, respecting, honoring, and listening to people who cannot rely on speech to be heard and understood can be hard if you've never done it before. It can be especially hard if you have never seen it done before. Genuine representation and inclusion is essential for our people to rise out of invisibility, erasure, isolation, segregation, and extreme marginalization. Those with power and privilege must use that power and privilege to listen, honor, represent, and include other human beings without that kind of power and privilege. Platforms should be used to elevate and foster understanding, not to perpetuate stereotypes and oppression.
CommunicationFIRST and other organizations could have helped Sia find an actually nonspeaking autistic actor to play the lead role in the forthcoming film Music. We could have helped make the filming accessible to a nonspeaking autistic actor.
We encourage Sia and others involved in Music to flip the script and do the following:
- Acknowledge the harm and trauma this situation has brought to the disability community, and create a meaningful plan to make amends.
- Work with actual augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) users to create an introductory short to the film to educate viewers on our broad, diverse humanity and the importance of inclusion and representation.
- Commit to creating a work environment that is both inclusive and accessible.
- Amplify disabled voices. Listen to us. Work with us.
Representation matters. We can and must do better.