BBB On A.I.R. Live & Thriving On Inclusion
- Editor’s Note
- YouTube Video
- What Does Inclusion At Work Mean To You?
- Dana’s Beauty Byte
- A First-Timer’s White Cane Experience
- Image Descriptions
For this month’s podcast episode we have a real treat for you. Recently, Nasreen, Sylvia, and I attended the American Foundation for the Blind Leadership Conference in Arlington, VA. Since all three of us were in the same location we took our Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R. podcast to the street to interview a few conference attendees.
In view of this year’s theme, ‘putting inclusion to work,’ we thought it would be cool to gather some input to share with our listeners. As with all of our podcast blog posts below the YouTube video is the transcript for those who prefer to read. Enjoy!
Stephanae McCoy: Welcome back to another edition of Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R. podcast, the show that’s clearing the air for more A.I.R. (access, inclusion, and representation). I’m Stephanae McCoy, and with me are my co hosts,
Nasreen Bhutta: I’m Nasreen Bhutta,
Sylvia Stinson-Perez: and Sylvia Stinson-Perez.
Sylvia: Hey, everybody, it’s Sylvia and a bunch of us and we’re here at the American Foundation for the Blind Leadership Conference 2022 with the theme “inclusion at work” and we’re going to ask a few people what inclusion at work means to them.
Steph: Hey, thank you, Sylvia. This is the first for us because as you guys may know, as our listeners, Sylvia, Nasreen, and I, your co hosts, are typically doing this via zoom, but we are all in the same room. So we’re just so excited to be here with you all today.
Nasreen: We are live at the AFB Leadership Convention here in Arlington.
Sylvia: That’s all you got Nasreen?
Nasreen: That’s all I got right now.
Sylvia: Nasreen’s been networking.
Nasreen: Yeah. Can you tell?
What Does Inclusion At Work Mean To You?
Steph: And we have with us right here this moment Melanie Pescoe. Melanie, can you introduce yourself? Tell us what you do and what inclusion at work means to you?
Melanie Pescoe: Absolutely. Thank you so much, Steph, and Sylvia and Nasreen. My name is Melanie Pescoe. I work at the American Foundation for the Blind in our public policy and research department. And inclusion at work is pretty simple for me. It’s being considered when plans are being made not after the fact. It means as my good friend here Steph, said from an idea-a-thon we were in together yesterday it’s about born accessible. Born accessibility where it is considered before any plans are made before any software is purchased before any projects are considered it’s those things being considered with everyone else and having an equal playing field and getting my due fair time.
Steph: Thank you so much, Melanie. Next up we have my good friend Brandie Kubel. Brandie, would you like to introduce yourself and tell us where you’re from and what you do and what inclusion of work means to you?
Brandie Kubel: Yes, Steph. Thanks very much. I’m Brandie Kubel and I am from Sacramento, California. I’m so happy to be here. I am a living skills instructor and I run the Careers Plus Program for transitional youth at Society for the Blind. Inclusion to me is a teamwork with everybody coming together, no matter what program they work for or work in. No matter whether or not they are sighted or whether they are blind, especially at our agency. We all work together for the common good and the common goal of our organization. Everybody feels that they’re all on the same team all playing on the same level. That we all have a voice and we all come together and join forces with talent to serve the same purpose.
Steph: Thank you. That was beautiful Brandie. Okay, and someone just walked up to us somebody who I’ve never met before, but I hear she’s simply amazing. Her name is Tai from APH. Tai, would you mind introducing yourself and telling us who you are, what you do and what inclusion network means to you?
Tai Tomasi: Sure. Thanks for having me. My name is Tai Tomasi, I’m with the American Printing House for the Blind. I’m the Director of Accessibility, Belonging, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity. And inclusion at work means having a place at the table at all levels of the organization.
Steph: Great, great answer.
Sylvia: And here we have Miss Jennifer Wenzel. Jennifer, what is inclusion at work to you?
Jennifer Wenzel: Well, I am the talent acquisition coordinator at a company called Beyond Vision in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And inclusion at work for me means that I am doing the same job that my coworkers are doing and doing it amazingly well. And I am competing on terms of equality. So I am just a person that is getting my bite at the Career Apple just like anyone else.
Sylvia: And doing an awesome job of it.
Nasreen: I’m Nasreen and I just bumped into Gabby, who is one of our contributors. Gabby, how you doing and how’s everything going with you today?
Gabby Mendonca: I’m good, how are you Nasreen?
Nasreen: I’m good. It’s great to see you here. And I want you to tell our listeners a little bit about what you do who you are also, and what does inclusion at work mean to you?
Gabby Mendonca: I recently graduated college and I would love to go into motivational speaking. Advocacy and disability inclusion is very important to me and it’s something I’m really passionate about. As a contributor to Bold Blind Beauty, I really like discussing mental health, because I feel like this is a topic that’s not really discussed a lot, just generally speaking. And so really sharing my opinions and stories with people is something that I love to do. And inclusion at work to me means that everybody is trained properly, the faculty and knowing that if I were to walk into a job knowing that these people would have the right training and the proper training to know how to assist someone like myself or someone else in a wheelchair, or any disability for that matter. And I think it just means going a little bit further than the usual and having conversations with their, with their faculty, with their staff, and just even extending it beyond that point.
Nasreen: Thanks so much, Gabby, I love that answer.
Steph: This is Steph, we’re here in a quieter location in a restaurant and I just ran into one Bold Blind Beauty’s Advisory Board members, and he’s also a mentee here at the conference. Aaron, would you mind introducing yourself?
Aaron Linson: Sure. So I’m Aaron Linson, you know, my job title. It’s, it’s changed as well as the company has. But right now I’m a recruiter with Amazon Web Services and our solutions architect department.
Steph: And Aaron, can you tell us what inclusion at work means to you please?
Aaron: Inclusion of work really, to me really means you know that everything is inclusive. From the top down there has to be that hierarchy of it needs to start from all the way to CEO down to the lowest level. Even in, you know, to say in Amazon’s case, even in to the warehouses that your products and services come out of.
Steph: Great answer. Thank you so much, Aaron.
Nasreen: And I’m Nasreen back here up at the lunch station. And guess who I bumped into? Courtney, who was one of our AFB Leadership, were you a mentee or mentor, Courtney?
Courtney Mazzola: Mentor.
Nasreen: All right. Rockstar Courtney here who is a mentor with the AFP Leadership Program. How’re you doing Courtney this afternoon?
Courtney: I’m doing fantastic. Almost wrapping up our sessions here. It’s been an intense and fun and wonderful, almost five days.
Nasreen: So Courtney, tell me a little bit about who you are, what you do, where you’re from, and what does inclusion at work mean to you?
Courtney: I am currently located in Santa Barbara, California. And I am a psychotherapist working with students at University of California, Santa Barbara. And inclusion in the workplace to me is about me feeling included, me feeling an integral part of the team. Whether I guess that has a lot to do with people just interacting and talking to me like I am any other colleague. And also knowing that I also do things differently. And holding both pieces at the same time and not treating me any differently because I do things differently. In a nutshell.
Nasreen: Awesome stuff. Yeah, yeah, we all do things differently. I love that answer. It was good hanging with you and jamming with you to Courtney. Safe travels.
Courtney: Looking more looking forward to more of those.
Nasreen: Absolutely safe travels, girl. And guess who I found else here at the luncheon table, I found Mr. Ray. And we’ve also been hanging out for the last week at the AFB Leadership Convention. And were you a mentee or mentor Ray?
Ray Hepper: I was a mentor. Because the program’s not over.
Nasreen: No, no, it’s not No, no, it’s not. We still have a couple of hours left right?
Ray: Exactly, and then a few more months until graduation.
Nasreen: That’s right. We graduate. When is that?
Nasreen: All right, and we’ll be jamming in Kentucky then won’t we guys? All right. All right. So right, tell me a little bit about yourself what you do who you are, and what does inclusion at work mean to you?
Ray: So I am a retired electric utility energy lawyer and I currently live in Maine. And so what I basically did for most of my career as a lawyer was working on regulation of the electric utility industry. And what inclusion at work means for me is really having the tools to do the job, and the support of all of the people in the workplace that understand and accept the fact that whether you’re visually impaired or not, you can do the job.
Nasreen: All right. Well, thanks so much Ray for your insight, enjoy.
Sylvia: Well, we were literally in person having fun meeting other people, asking them what inclusion meant to them. So Nasreen, how do you define inclusion?
Nasreen: Great question. I define inclusion where everybody is included. When processes and things are accessible for everybody in every format where I can access what I need, where I can move around freely, and where there is where I’m included where I was thought of. That people with disabilities are going to come to this event or sit at this table and they made provisions to make sure that I was able to keep up with what they’re doing with all the provisions that I need. And my accommodations, and just what I need was also taken into consideration and respected. That, to me is inclusion, when I can sit there and be one of them.a
Sylvia: Awesome. And that was the common theme is that when I’m just one of the people, you know, not counting, you know that I’m a person who’s blind or visually impaired.
So one of the concepts that was talked a lot about is accessibility versus usability. And something might be considered, quote, accessible, but not be usable, like out of the box usable, or easy to navigate. If it’s too complicated, and it’s accessible, but it’s too complicated to use, we’re gonna go through that one time and be like, oh, yeah, no, that’s too much trouble. And that’s it websites or experiences or whatever it is. And so it has to be something that’s usable, it has to be an experience that is inclusive, or we shut ourselves down. And that’s very common.
So, for me, inclusion is where I don’t have to put forth 10 times the amount of effort to be equal, where I can put the same amount of effort, the same amount of knowledge and skill ability as everyone else and be considered equal to them. And that is that is true inclusion, feeling like you truly belong.
So Steph, you were phenomenal doing a keynote speech at the AFB Leadership Conference on accessibility, inclusion and representation. So tell us what inclusion is to you.
Steph: Inclusion to me, like I said, in my talk is intentional. It is what I like to term from boardroom to entry level and throughout, everywhere in every area of life. It’s at the forefront of people’s minds to include everyone so that no one’s excluded. If we can build that into our world from top to bottom, and I believe it must be top to bottom. Because when leaders with disabilities are at the top, they will drive inclusive decisions throughout. Also accepting people where they are, as they are, is intentional and can lead to more inclusive processes, products, services, whatever it might be. When we’re developing these things from a board assessable type of philosophy, inclusion will automatically happen. So that’s inclusion to me.
Nasreen: That’s a great word born accessible.
Sylvia: Or design, accessible by design.
Nasreen: Yeah, accessible by design. Absolutely.
Sylvia: I recently asked somebody what inclusion meant to them, and I loved their answer. And they said, well, our mission is to love everyone and to treat everyone as we would want to be treated. And if you do that, you got inclusion.
Steph: Yes. Yes.
Nasreen: Everybody while I was in DC, I also had the chance to meet up with Dana Hinnant, our beauty editor, and we had a great time and some great eats. And Dana, I want to know from you, what does inclusion at work mean to you?
Dana Hinnant: Oh, well, great question Nasreen. Inclusion for me. What it means is being in the mix with everybody and I am living that life. So I think inclusion represents everybody working together, whether you be a part of a team, small business, or whatever you’re doing. So that’s what inclusion means to me is just being in the mix with everybody else not with an exclusive group of people but in a community of people of all different backgrounds, races, and the like. So that’s what inclusion means to me.
Nasreen: Awesome, excellent.
Dana’s Beauty Byte
Dana: According to Allure, brown mascara is trending on Tik Tok. This is great. And this is actually a great option to black mascara. If you want more of a daytime subtle look, brown can be an option. And if you’re looking to experiment with mascara and you’re just kind of a little intimidated by black mascara, try the brown. And for you black mascara lovers, you can still wear your black for that high drama, but maybe put brown fur during the day.
And long waves are also trending for long hair. That’s anybody who has hair shorter length or longer. This might be the great opportunity to try the new limited edition beachwaver in a limited edition colors. Style that hair make those waves happen.
And since summer is right around the corner and you’re looking to highlight your hair, try coppery red. That’ll spice put up some fire and spice in your summer evening.
And headbands are trending also on tick tock. Now this is good to throw on an elastic stretch headband to match your outfit on a hot summer day. If you’re just running around or going out just doing your thing. Remember I posted in a post that hair accessories are very big and this is one of them. And curly girls, I’ve also stated in the other podcast that the shag was trending well now it really is. So now that’s your Bold Blind Beauty Byte.
Sylvia: Well, I have to say this is Sylvia and just a couple of weeks ago I updated my color and it is pretty much that little bit of a lighter red. And I got the wave/curl going on.
Nasreen: I saw your red Sylvia and it looked really nice.
Dana: Nice nice. What do you guys think about brown mascara?
Nasreen: I need to know because I have black lashes so if I put it on am I gonna get like an earth tone look? Or is it gonna be all brown?
Dana: It’s probably going to be your eyes, what I’m thinking is that it’s going to be not as intense as your black mascara but like give you more of a subtle definition, a softer look. And it’s just an option if you want to try it and I like especially if you’re new (I know you’re probably not new to mascara) but if you’re new mascara, I would start with the brown just because if it smudges a little bit it might not be as noticeable. Because sometimes when it’s black, it can be really really noticeable. So I would just play around with it just to see you know what works.
Sylvia: Dana I have really fine eyelashes like they really don’t stand out. And so if I don’t wear black mascara. I think they would almost just fade into non existence.
Steph: I have worn brown mascara years ago but I’ve experimented with a couple different colors. I really didn’t notice too much of a difference. It was not as defined as the black and I too have I don’t want to say fine eyelashes but they’re very short.
But I did have a question for you Dana. For those who are new to it or maybe a little nervous about it. What do you think about the clear mascara?
Dana: You know what, I’m glad you brought that up because I’m not a big eye makeup wearer. I will fill in my eyebrows with the cool brow gels that are out there. But a long time ago I used to do the clear mascara because for the very same reason just if you it’s like a training reel. It’s like it’ll make your lashes stand out a little bit, maybe have a little shine, but I used to do that myself years ago. Um, so I think that’s a good idea too. If you just want to have even more natural look and maybe have your lashes stand out, you know, try the try the clear mascara.
Steph: That’s great. And you don’t have to worry about smudging or you know, getting on your cheek or your eyes.
Nasreen: I hate the raccoon look that you get with black mascara.
Dana: Yeah, um, because when I’ve done black mascara, I’ve got a good amount of lashes. And since I did wasn’t the type of person that wore mascara that much when I did, it always felt like there was something on my lashes. And it felt like my lashes was touching stuff. So it made me a little bit uncomfortable per se when the black mascara myself because it just always for me. It just felt like okay, my eyes are touching things. And you know, I was it just felt like I was constantly aware that I had mascara on.
Sylvia: So I have to say, girls, that it was so much fun last week at the AFB Leadership Conference to actually put on makeup every day and glam up a little bit. I don’t know how y’all felt about that. But for me, I just was like, I felt in my zone. I felt like, you know, this is cool.
Steph: Yeah, it was wonderful. It was wonderful to be able to do that to dress up a little bit and to feel confident. I mean, feel beautiful. And just, you know, be in that sort of professional zone, you know.
Nasreen: Dressed up face on, hair done, nails done, we done.
Sylvia: I love what you said there to feel confident and beautiful Steph that I think we all struggle for that struggle to make that happen. And I felt that way a little bit last week.
A First-Timer’s White Cane Experience
Steph: Nasreen, we were told that this was the first time you used the white cane, how did that make you feel?
Nasreen: Oh my gosh, yeah, that was a turning point for me. It was the point of processing it acceptance, a new beginning, freedom and independence to some degree, I will admit that much.
But it was very hard. And we were sharing in our workshops, and in sort of giving kudos to people and I had given kudos. I shared my story about that in our workshop. And I kind of got emotional about it because a friend had given it to me and brought it with him to this conference. And the way he handed it to me and said, “Here you go.” And that was our first evening together.
And then we went through the hallway and elevator bank and just practicing and just getting to understand its flow its ways it was just interesting. It was all new. I was just sort of sponging it all up, you know, I still haven’t processed it yet. I’m still in the process stage. Because now back when I was over there, I mean, that was my first experience with it.
And then the next day, I was actually ready to go into the workshop armed, ready and independent, but yet scared and timid. And then my challenge first came when we were you know, we’re all coffee connoisseur, as many of us are, and we had to go find some coffee and that was miles and miles away at the nearest Starbucks.
And so a couple of us while we were finding this because we were determined to find the coffee shop, we found it we came back and I was just like surprised because we’re navigating through the streets and it was what was interesting to me and I don’t know if this is anybody else’s first experience with the cane. What it helped me to do out on the street was really to identify things that at a glance I might bump into or fall off of.
Sylvia: A cane finds obstacles Nasreen. A cane finds those obstacles versus your feet or your face finding them.
Nasreen: It was interesting how that happened, you know because usually you glance at you see all those things, but then you’re seeing that you’re missing some of those things. But it was just maneuvering around them was just amazing. Anyways, I was like you know a little Roadrunner with my cane that day.
Sylvia: We’re proud. We are proud of you. Keep using it.
Steph: It was such a huge step and I know for some of our listeners out there who may be feeling a little timid or shy about using the cane. Or maybe even like some of us who have been there, feeling like I just I can’t use it because what will people think? Listening to your story might be just the encouragement that they need to be able to, to try, to at least try trying is the first step.
Nasreen: But what was really encouraging Steph is that I was among peers, I was really among peers. And that helped because everybody was there to be supportive, everyone was equal, everyone was the same. Everyone either had a dog or a cane.
Sylvia: Let me guess. You, you felt included. And that’s so important, connecting with peers, people who are walking on your same journey, who understand. Connecting to people like that is so important. And we have this amazing opportunity to connect with, oh, my gosh, tons of people. And, so I just encourage everybody to go out and find people, even if you can’t find them in person, find them online, join some virtual things, etc. So important.
Nasreen: The beauty was that we got to be down on the ground after two years of being locked up and isolated. And that human interaction, human touch, human experience, there’s nothing like it was human socialization is nothing like it. And I think that was also the drive behind, you know, my madness for grabbing the cane and being so trying to be independent.
So that was, it was a great experience. And I have to thank Aaron Linson out there, for he’s part of our Bold Blind Beauty board as well. But he’s also a colleague and a friend. And usually, I’m always mentoring him. But this is one area that he actually mentored me in. And I really appreciate that because it was something that I had to accept and walk into it, I had to face it. It was there, I just had to step into it.
Steph: I just wanted to say, that’s great Nasreen, because it takes, at least in my opinion, it takes a great deal of courage to be able to take that first step. And as you said, when you find the independence and being able to navigate the world and find those obstacles, as Sylvia talked about, that’s huge.
Sylvia: It was so amazing, to be in person to be to gather, to connect and network with so many people and to find our commonalities. And honestly, just to have fun.
Steph: That was such a wonderful event. And you guys at AFB you did a phenomenal job and talk about inclusion, even the event itself was inclusive. You know, everything that you did was from that perspective, and I thank you so much.
Sylvia: Thank you, it was energizing. And I know that I walked away completely reenergized with a new passion to really make a positive impact in the lives of people. And I know that that happened for you guys as well.
So our theme was inclusion at work, which is why we asked everyone what their definition of inclusion was. And we challenged everyone when they walked away from the conference to find ways to create more inclusion, whether it be at work in their daily life, etc. So we challenge all of you to find ways to create more inclusion and belonging, especially considering people who are blind and visually impaired as equals.
Steph: Sylvia, thank you so much for your powerful words. The focus on A.I.R. (access, inclusion, and representation) is the vision behind Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R. Everyone on the planet needs air to survive. People with disabilities need A.I.R. (access, inclusion, and representation) not only to survive, but to thrive.
Nasreen: Thank you for listening to this episode of Bold Blind Beauty On A.I.R. Please subscribe and if you enjoy this show, please do recommend it to your friends and family. Thanks for listening everybody.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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