Disability Power Series: Demystifying Disability with Emily Ladau and Kelly Dawson

Dion McNeal
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June 16, 2022
“I would say my power is really in standing in my truth. And seeing my truth as a viable reality. I feel that as a disabled-person a lot of the time we are spoken for or we are told what our reality is, and I think in the day-to-day there is such power in saying "Well, actually, I can speak for myself. And actually, I know exactly what I am feeling and how I’m interacting with the world." Even if the people around you do necessarily understand that, understanding that for yourself is powerful,” -Kelly Dawson, Disability Power Series: Demystifying Disability with Emily Ladau and Kelly Dawson, 2022.

Last month’s Disability Power Series looked a bit different as we tuned in to a discussion between friends who are artists, creators, and advocates. We invited advocate and media consultant Kelly Dawson and author and activist Emily Ladau for an engaging conversation. Aside from being real-life friends, Emily and Kelly have challenged the status quo by sharing their stories of being disabled. Kelly's work has been featured in notable publications, including Vox, Dwell, and more. Emily is a disability activist and is well known for her book, "Demystifying Disability."

Kelly Dawson is a media consultant and disability advocate based in Los Angeles. She is a prolific writer for notable publications including Cup of Jo, Vox, AFAR, Dwell, Martha Stewart Living, McSweeney's, and Architectural Digest. Kelly is the three-time guest editor for Refinery29's "Voices of Disability" series, two-time guest host of "Call Your Girlfriend," and deputy editor at Apartment Therapy. 

Emily Ladau is a passionate disability rights activist, writer, storyteller, and digital communications consultant. She is the author of Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to be an Ally, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Named one of the best books of 2021 by NPR and a 2021 Booklist Editors' Choice, Demystifying Disability is an approachable guide to being a thoughtful, informed ally to disabled people, with actionable steps for what to say and do (and what not to do) and how you can help make the world a more inclusive place.

Watch their discussion about disability, its intersections with their work, the intrinsic relationship between disability and leadership, how demystifying disability looks in community collaboration/developing friendships/communal work, how they became friends, and more!

Follow Kelly Dawson on Instagram and Twitter @atthecrosswalk and read her work at kellymdawson.com. Follow Emily on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. More about her work can be found on her website, EmilyLadau.com.

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