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ACCESS TO INCLUSION

Lightbox with the message "Everyone Matters." on a Yellow background.

ACCESS TO INCLUSION

Editor’s Note

The following post was written by Melody Goodspeed, my friend and the voice of Abby. In her own words she describes what it’s like to face a typical barrier on a day to day basis. What makes this story compelling is the emotional aspect due to the lack of access which many of us who don’t live with disabilities ever consider. Before reading her post I’d like to once again share Bold Blind Beauty’s description of A.I.R. (Access, Inclusion, and Representation) which I think is fitting.

  • Access – Access begins with a heart and mind intention. Access to basic human rights like food, education, employment, healthcare, housing, technology, and transportation is not a given for everyone. Being denied access to basic human rights is demeaning. Denying access as a means to exact control is inhumane. While universal design can address many access issues we need to work together to ensure equity for all.
  • Inclusion – Acceptance from Boardroom to Entry Level & Throughout. To create an inclusive culture meaningful steps must be taken to fully welcome people with disabilities in all businesses, concepts, and social engagements. True inclusion begins with appreciating differences and embracing people where they are, as they are—this is the heart of humanity.
  • Representation – As members of our multi-cultural society all of us want to be valued, to be seen, and heard. Those of us who are considered different, because have a disability, matter. We desire and deserve authentic representation in business, politics, arts, media, pop culture, sports, law enforcement, military, etc. When we see positive reflections of ourselves modeled through others the possibilities of what can be achieved are endless.

Back To School

Illustration of a person in a wheelchair at the bottom of a staircase. The imagery  represents what access is not and it depicts barriers people with disabilities face daily.
A visual representation of what access is NOT.

Many of us are feeling the back-to-school vibe. Looking forward to our routines and dealing with a mixed bag of emotions. I am a mother of 2 and spent the morning couple of weeks ago getting my daughter ready for her great adventure of starting kindergarten.

I know you’re wondering where ACCESS to INCLUSION fits the story. Here we go! Imagine walking into an already emotional situation and then be handed a blank piece of paper. You are then asked to fill-out each form with the requested information. Confused, right?

I was not handed blank forms today, but the confusion and anxiety was there for me and hope this gave you a glimpse of what it looks like to be expected to complete this private information for your child when it is not in a form that provides you #ACCESS. I also share my personal story to bring forward daily struggles that are faced in the disability community in the hopes for change.

I am a blind mother. My children are sighted. I ask you to consider,  how would you feel if you had to rely on a stranger for such an important task?

Luckily, my husband completed the forms , however, it still feels wrong not to have that same ACCESS to these records. To add to the “left-out” feeling most individuals start speaking to him directly and the dread of becoming a wallflower sets in.

Inclusion is NOT tolerance. It is unquestioned ACCEPTANCE.

~Unknown

Please do not get me wrong I have learned to advocate and assert myself into the conversation and am very active in my children’s lives. The point I want to make is what if we flipped the script and used the problem I face to a solution?

We are all virtual for the most part these days. Why not have the forms created to be user friendly for all? This would improve the workflow, reduce the time parents/guardians spent completing the forms and give more time to focus on getting to know the teacher and learn the curriculum. Sounds like we could all use this same model to improve our workflows at work, e-commerce, and entertainment.

ACCESS TO INCLUSION is what I fight for everyday at #AFB1921 along side my colleagues, partners, and supporters. I invite you to share your DEI story and advocate how ACCESS is the gateway TO INCLUSION.

About The Author:

Melody Goodspeed is posing in a CABI Jacket. The Citizen Jacket looks like it is the Pantone color Saffron (a gold color). The jacket has big pockets at the waist and what looks like big brass buttons.
Melody Goodspeed

Melody Goodspeed, Associate Director of Development at the American Foundation for the Blind serves as an Advisory Board Member here at Bold Blind Beauty. In addition, Melody is a passionate advocate and the voice of Abby, Bold Blind Beauty’s brand icon, designed to change the way we view blindness. Blindness afterall is a vast spectrum ranging from low vision to totallly blind and no matter where we fall on this spectrum our lack of sight has no bearing on our capabilities. To learn more about Abby you can read her story here: Abby, Brand Icon Extraordinaire.

Connecting With Melody Goodspeed

Connecting With Bold Blind Beauty

Like what you’ve read and want to chat about it? Join us in the Bold Blind Beauty Facebook group.

Image Descriptions:

  • The header contains a lightbox with the message “Everyone Matters.” on a Yellow background.
  • Illustration of a person in a wheelchair at the bottom of a staircase. The imagery represents what access is not and it depicts barriers people with disabilities face daily.
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