People with disabilities make up the largest minority in the United States. One in four adults lives with some type of disability. I actually have a learning disability, so I understand the experience of growing up struggling and fighting to adapt to learning and work environments that don’t create a safe or accessible experience for the way my brain functions.
And since it’s March Disability Awareness Month, I want to encourage us all to take the opportunity to discuss the ways in which many diversity and inclusion initiatives fail to address this often-unseen minority. It’s time to prioritize how we can reshape our communities to truly include everyone.
Two years ago, I had the honor and pleasure of taking over as the Account Director on a fantastic client account: The Indiana’s Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities (GCPD). Our team has worked with the council to launch and execute their annual March Disability Awareness campaign for over three decades; and for me, it’s been one of the most fulfilling and educational experiences of my career.
Through our work with GCPD, I’m helping raise awareness and access for others, while at the same time discovering a wealth of resources for myself. I’ve uncovered assets and insights that are educating me further on the topic of diversity and inclusion – as well as the issues and policies that need reformed. I’ve also gained more understanding and accountability in my own misperceptions.
Because of my own disability, I was in my mid-twenties when I started to have confidence in my capabilities. I’ve also recognized that I don’t have to confront the same discrimination and unwarranted limitations faced by many others, because my disability is unseen.
I believe we each have a distinct and personal role in this journey toward true inclusion. With the help of Borshoff, GCPD recently launched a website designed to help others on this journey. My friends at the council and I believe that Unite2Include.org curates the most relevant information and resources to empower people to work together to create more inclusive communities.
If you’re interested in learning more about this effort, including ways to be a better ally to people with disabilities, visit the March Disability Awareness Month campaign – PeopleNotPunchlines.org – and sign up for one of the many online webinars being hosted this month by leaders and individuals having personal experience with a variety of challenges. Topics range from Representation and Decision Making to Gatekeeping and Intersectionality, plus much, much more.
You’re also invited to our next Shoff Chats on March 31 where we’ll talk with Darren Rowan, program manager with Eli Lilly and Company and Jacob Kluth, experience design manager at Mars, Inc. about accessible design and communication tools within the workplace.