Don’t Forget Disability: 3 Ways to Increase Accessibility in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Work

Imagine trying to get to a COVID-19 testing site when you have cerebral palsy and use a wheelchair, or wanting to stay on top of news about Black Lives Matter protests in your community when you’re Deaf or blind. For the over 61 million Americans living with disabilities, access to physical locations, and digital information, as well as effective technology is critical. As a busy entrepreneur with a disability, Daman Wandke can relate; he relies on tech to stay on top of his consulting, connect with his team and customers, and keep a pulse on what’s going on in the world.

“Living with a disability, I understand the day-to-day challenges people like me overcome, especially in the workplace and when interacting online with organizations as a consumer,” said Wandke, disability studies instructor at Western Washington University and founder of Wandke Consulting.

According to Wandke, disability rights are civil rights and need to be a part of every organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) plan. ”Now is the time for leaders to embed accessibility into DEI initiatives,” said Wandke. With July 26, 2020, marking the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Wandke says its important this work be done correctly, not only to meet the law but to utilize as a foundation to build off of, not up to.

Here are Wandke’s three tips to help organizations increase accessibility: 

  1. Conduct annual audits of all external-facing technology and communication. This includes websites, email newsletters, and social media platforms.
  2. Hold regular disability inclusion training so everyone knows the history and relevance of the disability rights movement and how the laws apply to their organization.
  3. Consult with experts living with disabilities to guide the process. “Leaders need to apply an authentic accessibility lens to everything they do to ensure they are accurately reducing all accessibility barriers,” said Wandke.

About Wandke Consulting: Led by people with disabilities, this firm is on a mission to help create a more accessible and inclusive world by empowering leaders to increase accessibility. They provide services including web accessibility consulting, disability inclusion training, DEI curriculum development, and inclusive marketing practices. 

For more information, visit: wandke.com.

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