Consent in the Disability Community

Host: Welcome to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of Western New York Independent Living (WNYIL). Our guest today is Ericka Glick, a systems advocate with WNYIL, and I'm your host Ernie Churchwell. Welcome to the program, Ericka. 

Guest: Hi, thank you for having me, Ernie. 

Host: It's our pleasure. I believe you are the person most knowledgeable about an intriguing new event that you folks are having in mid-February, Consent in the Disability Community. Now that could mean an awful lot of different things. Was there a call for this kind of gathering by the community at large or staff, or what's the impetus for this that caused it to happen? 

Guest: So, I had put on a workshop with our youth coordinator, Bianca Logan. And the topic of said workshop was Disability and Sex in Relationships. So that's what we talked about. There were more and more questions about, OK, well, what do we do in regard to the steps that get you in such a situation where you would have a relationship or be in a sexual situation? And also what do we do about keeping ourselves safe? 

So that got the gears going and I said OK, well, the first step of all of that is making sure there's consent, right. So, consent can show up in a myriad of situations. Not nearly necessarily just relationship or sexual could be anything that you would need to say. Yes, I'm OK with this happening or no, I'm not OK with this happening. And so, it is important before we have that conversation of relationships and sexual situations, we need to understand what consent is. How we can enforce consent for ourselves and for loved ones, and also what is and is not appropriate behavior to or from another disabled person. So, once we have that kind of a base, a foundation, if you will. Then we can continue on with having the questions and the conversations that people were really asking. 

Host: Would you say that some people, because of the nature of their disability, find it far too easy for other people to kind of ride roughshod over their wishes and not get the appropriate consent? 

Guest: Yes. Honestly, I think that can happen to to really anybody in the disability community because many times a non-disabled person can think it is very easy to push over a disabled person and go against their wishes because either they're well-meaning and they really think that they know better, or they're doing the best they can for the individual. 

Well, I'm more of a nothing about us without this kind of person and making sure that the individual is always included in any decision made by or for them. 

Host: Sometimes it can even come in kind of odd situations. One of our coworkers, Doug, lost his sight in the Army and he was in a rehabilitation center just outside Chicago, and he had been doing some cane traveling practice. And he was on a street corner. Someone grabbed his cane, dragged him across the street and said, "You're welcome, buddy," and then went on. He didn't know where he was. He didn't know how to get to where he needed to go. So, you just shouldn't assume these things. Oh, we're running short on time. Could you tell us the when and where of your event? 

Guest: Absolutely. So, the workshop will be in collaboration with Planned Parenthood, held at our Independent Living of Niagara County office. That is 746 Portage Rd. in Niagara Falls on February 13th. That's Tuesday from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. 

Host: All right. And if people have questions, how can they reach you? 

Guest: They can reach me by email, which is Or if they can call our agency at 284-4131. 

Host: Thanks so much for being with us. Ericka, you've been listening to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of WNYIL. Our guest today was Ericka Glick, systems advocate with WNYIL. And I've been your host, Ernie Churchwell.