The Disability Advantage

There is a pretty good chance you are directly or indirectly connected to the power of disability.

The majority of people are. For starters, one-seventh of the people on the planet have a disability, which makes people with disabilities the largest minority group in the world. When you factor in their family, friends, and allies, which I conservatively estimate as another three in seven, the disability community comprises four-sevenths of the world’s population.

Of all the conditions that bind us together, the experience of disability is the most universal and therefore the most unifying. It’s not just the fact that it touches the majority of people on the planet. It’s that it offers us an alternative to the lone-actor, epic-hero story that abounds. It gives us a story that celebrates our deep connections to each other and to the earth—a story that reminds us that none of us get where we are going on our own and that success doesn’t come from rising above but by rising with.

Read the rest of Al’s post on the Common Good Collective website

Image: Allegra Ricci

About the Lead Author

Al Etmanski
Al Etmanski
Al Etmanski is a community organizer, social entrepreneur and author. ( (@aletmanski ) His latest books are Impact: Six Patterns to Spread Your Social Innovation and The Power of Disability: 10 Lessons for Surviving, Thriving and Changing the World. He is a faculty member of the Asset Based Community Development Institute (ABCD), an Ashoka fellow, senior fellow Social Innovation Generation and Co-Chair of BC Partners for Social Impact. Al is co-founder of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN), a family run social enterprise assisting families address the financial and social well-being of their relative with a disability, particularly after their parents die. He proposed and led the successful campaign to establish the world’s first savings plan for people with disabilities, the Registered Disability Savings Plan. John McKnight endorsed Al's book Impact by saying: Impact is a chronicle of the wisdom Etmanski has gained in exploring the keys to long-term social change. His findings lead us out of the past and onto a pathway for progress in the 21st century. Once describing Al as an Abundant Community Pioneer, Peter Block wrote: Al Etmanski is one of North America's best social inventors. He has looked beyond traditional institituions and their failures to create new means of achieving a better life. His analysis of the forms of organization that enable local communities while avoiding rigid hierarchies is groundbreaking. His book A Good Life is a wonderful and practical guide to the potential for neighbors to grow strong through the power of hospitality. Michael J. Fox said of Al's latest book, The Power of Disability: This book reminds us of what we have in common: the power to create a good life for ourselves and for others, no matter what the world has in store for us.

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