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Recently, while perusing a writers’ page and website, I read an article about a recent roundtable of writers getting together to discuss diversity in storytelling. The article detailed the particulars -time, date, composition of folks in attendance, etc. It also mentioned that disabled folks were in attendance and noted the accessibility of the tables and venue. What I then wondered was were there any disabled writers and disabled writers of color as presenters and/or panelists?
Access is way beyond getting through doors; it means a greenlight to the stage and spotlight to give voice and input from lived experience. It’s clearing and promoting pathways to the podium. It’s planning committees composed of those with diversified and adaptive skill sets who often widen the lens of possibility.
Too many times on far too many occasions disabled folks are an afterthought and universal access seems like a unicorn. And this a quarter-century after the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed.
Inclusion isn’t about filling quotas and tokenizing folks from marginalized communities. It’s about creating learning exchanges as part of meaningful dialogue where actionable steps are taken toward beneficial change…for us all.
If your conferences/summits/workshops etc are filled with the same folks with the same focus that often exclude voices and views that differ from you you’ve got some work to do *if* you want fresh perspectives from variant positions.
Start by shifting a bit from your comfort zone and dislodging from ideas that may keep you rooted in rigidity. Be open to broadening your awareness and insight from lives that don’t mirror your own.
Trust me, there’s much to be learned and gained from underprivileged folks who often upset the status quo.