Connecting Differently Abled Friends and Allies in Our Meetings

Differently Abled Friends and Allies is a working group, under the care of New York Yearly Meeting, where people with or without disabilities can come together and learn from one another’s experiences. “I think Quakers are open to discussing things… but sometimes they have to be prompted,” says Nichole Nettleton, who joined DAFA for support in living with her disabilities, but has become an active facilitator of the group’s work.

“Because they don’t know, they’re not sure, they don’t want to offend someone,” Nichole elaborates, noting that people who have disabilities often want to discuss their experiences. “They want to be asked; they want to be included.… When it’s not brought up, when it’s intentionally avoided, it gets really awkward, and it makes it feel like they can’t talk about it.”

Nichole offers guidance on how Quakers can be more supportive of members and seekers with disabilities: “Be there for people. Be intentional. And being there doesn’t always mean doing something every minute. It can mean listening, just like when you’re in meeting for worship—the silence is not passive; it’s a very active thing.”

Nichole has also shared her story in a Friends Journal interview.

(In this video, Nichole uses the terms “differently abled” and “people with disabilities” interchangeably. Other people with disabilities may find “differently abled” offensive. If you’re not sure how to talk to someone about their condition, follow Nichole’s advice and ask respectfully!)

5 thoughts on “Connecting Differently Abled Friends and Allies in Our Meetings

  1. We at Camas (WA) Friends Church will begin discussing “My Body is not a Prayer Request” by Amy Kenny next Wednesday, this was very timely.
    Jim Miller

  2. Thanks so much, Nichole. Sometimes, as an ‘able bodied’ I find it hard to find that active open silence that invites sharing, retreating into fear of offending. And I am aware that as I get towards eighty I get tired of my physical limitations being the topic of conversation or feeling that is what defines. Your encouragement is helpful. And your song was beautiful.

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