So much to celebrate, but…
So much to celebrate, and…
National Disability Independence Day is July 26th, a day to commemorate the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. And the ADA is definitely worth celebrating, as it stands out as the landmark legislation providing civil rights protections to people with disabilities in employment, education, transportation and more.
But after we’ve had enough of the champagne and confetti, it’s time to take stock. What barriers still exist? How can each one of us help build an inclusive, equitable and just world for everyone, including ourselves, our family members, friends, colleagues and fellow citizens who happen to have disabilities?
Here are a few ideas.
- Think about access. When you’re planning an event, think about accessibility from the outset. Is the venue itself accessible? How will you handle requests for accommodations? Is your marketing accessible? Find out about accessible parking, restrooms, etc. and make sure that information is easily available for all participants.
- Remote meetings and presentations. Make sure you provide closed captioning for all remote meetings, and be prepared to provide interpreting or live captioning services when needed. Consider using a visual description of yourself as part of your introduction. Provide slides and other content in an accessible format, and consider providing content in advance whenever possible.
- Check your assumptions. We all make assumptions about other people, all of the time. And our assumptions about people with disabilities, about their abilities and their needs, can serve as additional barriers to their success and independence. Make sure to remind yourself that when you’ve met one person with [fill in the disability issue], you’ve only met one person. Every person, whether they have a disability or not, is different. Prepare yourself to be surprised!
Yes. There’s much to celebrate, so…let’s take a moment to recognize the real progress and, at the same time, commit, re-commit and re-re-commit ourselves to building an inclusive culture for people with disabilities.
What can YOU do, today, to be an agent of change?
If you want to learn more about how your organization can be an agent of change and ensure disability and access inclusion in the workplace, contact us today at LetsGo@DiversityCrew.com.
About the author:
Mary Liz has a strong track record of supporting high achievement for people with disabilities.
Mary Liz believes there is great untapped potential, for employees with disabilities, managers, colleagues and customers, when businesses begin to view disability as an asset.
Focusing on the needs and strength of people with invisible disabilities in employment, she is both practical and passionate about disability education and empowerment, believing them to be essential parts of an inclusive and equitable work culture.