In honoring and celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), I would like to reflect on a recent question I was asked in an interview with Hummingbird Humanity about how to define accessibility. The answer is simple but profound. Accessibility is freedom, it’s independence, and it’s EVERYTHING that ableism is not.
Spending the past few years educating people about the benefits of accessibility and how it leads us to innovation, I’m literally celebrating GAAD everyday. Whether I’m speaking on intersectionality through the lens of disability, the heart of inclusion or delivering my TEDx, Disabling Ableism: The modern pathway to inclusion. The fact is our modern pathway to inclusion is literally paved with every brick in accessibility.
I am also constantly sharing and talking to companies about the inherent benefits of disability inclusion in the workforce, and sharing my lived experiences that prove what I am talking about. All the way from waitress in a wheelchair to Vice President of Sales and onto a successful owner of my own business, I have realized the fundamental truth is without creating accessible working environments there is no such thing of inclusion of people with disabilities in every aspect of life.
We all know that structural accessibility means ramps, wider doors, elevators and other physical elements that are a necessity for including and making environments accessible for those with disabilities. We have all watched and witnessed over the past 30 years from the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) how we are still striving to break down the barriers of the real world around us, BUT accessibility is way more than this!
Accessibility is a state of mind. It’s a shift in mindset. And as we grapple with the intangibles of our new digital age. We should look to our past and reassure ourselves that this is not something new that we have just dreamed up and is a fad that will be hip today and gone tomorrow.
Plato may have summed it up best when he taught us that,“Necessity is the mother of creation.”
Real accessibility enables the path for true equity and leads to amazing products, services, infrastructure and technologies that we all choose universally. Accessibility of the internet is a life-changing freedom and in fact could be argued to be the most important form of accessibility today because of the nature of our world moving everything we do in it online.
It allows people to work and to communicate with each other, to find the services they need and order the products that support their lives. In reality accessibility comes in just as many variations as there are disabilities and when you think of it that way you can begin to understand and discover the true unlimited opportunities and possibilities of inclusion.
As stated by the founders of this wonderful day of celebrating accessibility, “The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion, and the more than One Billion people with disabilities.”
But if you want to read more on the wide ranging nature of accessibility, I encourage you to read my husband’s post celebrating GAAD last year.
For now, I’m signing off with a Happy GAAD, and encourage you all to learn, share and talk about,how accessibility is for all of us. Realize the chances are whether we are disabled or not, any advancements in accessibility will most likely be used by all of us sometime in the near future.