Social change tactics
The following resources are examples of tactics you might use once you have completed the preceding worksheets, entitled “Planning for Action” and “Implementation Toolkit”. Each has been grouped according to the following themes which describe the type of action:
- RELATIONSHIP BUILDING:
This theme involves reaching out to relevant individuals and organizations in order to expand your network, gain additional resources, and build your collective power.
- EDUCATION AND AWARENESS:
Educating others and spreading awareness of accessibility issues is an important part of changing problematic policies, advocating for more resources, and shifting the dominant ableist culture.
- MOBILIZING PUBLIC SUPPORT AND GETTING ON THE AGENDA:
This theme involves gaining the support of the public in order to place pressure on key decision-makers who have the power to enact change. At the same time, engaging with the public can also help to shift away from widespread ableism in society at large.
- POLICY CHANGE:
Many of the policies within institutions, healthcare settings, and the government are rooted in ableist beliefs and make it difficult for students with disabilities to succeed, so working to change them can lead to tangible, long-term improvements.
Under many sub-headings, we have included resources and information aimed at supporting your group in enacting the associated tactic.
Coalition building: A coalition is a group of individuals and/or organizations working toward a common goal. Coalitions bring multiple professional and grassroots organizations together to expand available resources in order to achieve better results than would be possible for any single group alone (SOPHE, 2016).
Coalition building resources:
Support existing organizations: Sometimes, an organization may already be working on your issue, in which case you can choose to support their efforts.
For some ideas, we have assembled a list of relevant organizations (******)
Establishing relationships with key decision-makers and influencers:
- Establish contact and request participation/support
- Provide constructive feedback
- Attend public meetings
EDUCATION AND AWARENESS:
Offer educational or training sessions, webinars, teach-ins:
For resources, look into:
- Citizens with Disabilities – Ontario (CWDO)
- Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health
- Accessible Campus
- Council of Canadians with Disabilities
Communicate information via:
- Fact sheets
- Leaflets, pamphlets, books
- Newspapers, journals, online articles
- Radio and television
- Organizational and community newsletters
- Informational websites
- Presentations at public, institutional, organizational meetings
- Film-making and screening
- Re-circulate existing media coverage, such as:
- Disabled Doctors exist: Celebrating their contribution to medicine
- Most Doctors hold distorted view of disabled life: American study finds, Holland Bloorview Kids rehabilitation hospital, February 2021
- Docs with Disabilities podcast
Conduct accessibility audits at placements:
- Accessibility audits are a way of assessing how accessible a workplace is for people with disabilities.
- They can be completed through Abilities to Work.
Conduct accessibility audits at placements:
- Social media campaigns involve communicating via platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok, etc. in order to reach large groups of people outside your direct network.
- Some ideas to consider:
- Show real people who are impacted e.g. portraits, quotes, stories from disabled students, disabled healthcare workers, and disabled patients.
- Make use of hashtags to facilitate discussion, gather more stories, and measure engagement.
- Resources on social media campaigns:
MOBILIZING PUBLIC SUPPORT AND GETTING ON THE AGENDA:
- Plan a public meeting
- Start a petition
- Plan a social media campaign
- This tactic overlaps with Education and Awareness, where you can find additional resources and information.
- Develop symbols, flags, or symbolic colours for the public to display their support
- Organize marches or parades
- For example, try collaborating with Toronto Disability Pride March.
- Organize protests, sit-ins, or student strikes
Policy change can lead to tangible, long-term improvements, but it is often a multi-step process that involves building relationships with key decision-makers, mobilizing public support, and educating people about the issues with current policies as well as options to improve them.
Resources about the policy change process:
- Community Toolbox: Changing Policies Overview
- Food Policy for Canada, York University
- Public Health Ontario: Supporting the Policy-Making Process
- A policy brief is a concise, stand-alone document intended to inform/advise a non-academic audience about a policy issue that requires attention (Policy Scotland, 2021).
- “A strong policy brief distills research findings in plain language and draws clear links to policy initiatives” (IDRC, n.d.).
- While policy briefs can be prepared as a stand-alone tactic, they are often most effective when combined with tactics from the previous sections.
- The key elements of a policy brief include:
- An executive summary
- An introduction
- An overview of the research or problem
- An examination of the findings
- A conclusion that outlines the policy recommendations while linking them to the research
Resources on how to write a policy brief: