Inclusion, people with disabilities, and full representation
// By Jacqueline Brennan
Moya Shpuntoff was already set to attend Upswell Chicago – even before submitting a workshop proposal. She is projects coordinator at the World Institute on Disability, which has supported Upswell and its predecessor – Independent Sector’s annual conference – for several years now (learn more about Moya). Her supervisor suggested that Upswell Chicago would also be a great opportunity to talk about intersectionality and disability rights, and how it all ties in with diversity, inclusion, and changework. And so, she’s going to, at the Upswell workshop, “An Intersectional Approach to Disability Inclusion.”
“The World Institute on Disability has a project with JPMorgan Chase where we go into conferences they support financially to help make them accessible for people with disabilities,” says Moya. “That looks like a couple of things: we bring people with disabilities who are interested in attending the conferences in on scholarships, we set up captioning for all the big plenaries, things like that. We also arrange for mobility devices like scooters and wheelchairs.
“We see only a very limited amount of disability representation in nonprofit leadership, in the larger-scale, well-funded advocacy effort. It’s important to recognize that people with disabilities are also queer, are also people of color, are also immigrants. There’s a huge spectrum of who is impacted by disability. Representation needs to respect that, and often it doesn’t. So, for people who care about equity and justice for marginalized populations, disability rights and justice are a part of that.”
During the workshop, Moya will encourage participants to reflect on the current populations represented in their organizations at all levels – from customers, client base, participants, all the way up through staff management and board – why that’s important, and what that looks like in terms of tangible actions.
She’ll also discuss advocacy for increased hiring of multiply marginalized people with disabilities into leadership roles in organizations, as well as on a larger scale, how to share information in accessible formats to best reach everyone, scaling from social media to websites and apps.
“A lot exciting things are happening around that, but that needs to be accessible to everyone, and often for folks with disabilities – for example, people who use things like a screen reader to read what’s on their screen – a lot of times that information isn’t accessible for those formats. It’s important to talk about how we can do that to help everyone who’s trying to reach pretty much anyone with this kind of changework. And it’s actually quite easy to do.
“Lastly, we’re going to talk about how people can take their work from standard, conventional, but inaccessible, solutions to an inclusively designed process that considers a wide variety of people with disabilities from the beginning.”
Moya wants participants to be excited about seeing a larger scale of the issues that are happening in terms of racism and white supremacy, especially in the United States, and the conversations around how to handle this huge problem. “Disability rights have a lot to do with that,” she says. “So we’re going to talk about how ableism, racism, ageism, and classism all work together to create unsustainable ideals, and all of those things together keep the system working in a way that hurts a lot of people, but especially people with disabilities.
“Connecting all of these things together is something I’m excited to do with folks and bring it all the way around – from how they are all connected, and why this is important for our work going forward.”
An Intersectional Approach to Disability Inclusion is happening Thursday, November 14 from 10:45 – 11:30am.