Advancements in Technology Work to Restore Sight (Part 2)
By Albert J. Rizzi, M.Ed.
With the disability community being the largest minority group in the world, with over $8 trillion in discretionary income, why wouldn’t we work to include them as a valued and celebrated market base or candidate for employment? There are three reasons:
- Fear that we are going to catch what caused this or that disability.
- Guilt because we could not protect our loved one from being born with or acquiring a disability.
- Acceptance of poorly coded platforms and digital offerings that are not designed with true inclusion in mind, violate the law, and discriminate against those reliant on assistive technologies.
Even though Lady Justice has a disability, her juries are still sequestered as they try to set precedents that create case law for digital equity and authentic inclusion as already protected under federal law. The internet is a public forum without a doubt. We go to the internet for education, communication, banking, retail services, and recreation. We even pay our taxes via the internet. Yet, Congress and the courts are still on the fence about whether the internet is as much a public forum as a brick and mortar building.
If you are not dependent on assistive devices, I wonder how you would feel if you were not able to access the website of your choosing to conduct business, pursue an education, or pay your mortgage or rent. How would you feel if the sites you had no choice but to use just did not work because you had brown hair or because you were too tall or too short? It seems unreasonable and highly unlikely, but the same thing is happening to people who happen to be blind, paralyzed, deaf, dyslexic or, as hard as this is going to be for some of you to swallow because they are getting too old to be concerned with.
Baby Boomers that means you. You are aging into this community at an alarming rate and, unless we all do something about authentic inclusion and digital equity today, no one will be able to enjoy much of what they enjoy when using the internet and virtual worlds tomorrow. Most people today are “temporarily able.” Their eyesight will eventually fail, their hips will be going out, they may lose the full use of a limb or maybe two. The list goes on, but you will all get here eventually, and will all be facing a world that has become disabled to you because of programmatic oversights.
Yet, and I know this from personal experience, you will be labeled as “disabled” instead of the technologies themselves which were not designed to enable you to use them as seamlessly as you always have.
There is hope. Many cases are being decided in favor of the disability community, probably due in part to Lady Justice being blind herself and one of the most notable members of our community. If you follow me on LinkedIn or through our My Blind Spot AccessAbility blog, then you know that my opinions on authentic inclusion and digital equity are that they are non-negotiable. I believe every one of my peers in the disability community who wants to go to work, pursue an education, or who simply wants to pay their bills and shop online should be able to, just as our nondisabled peers do each and every day without issue.
The disability community wants to stop being taxing dependents and would prefer to go to work and become independent taxpayers. Is that so unreasonable, given the laws that were passed to allow that to happen? Is that so irrational, given the technologies that are specifically designed to level the employment playing field? That cannot happen and will never happen unless and until we, as a nation and a global society, demand that all corporations, government agencies, and small businesses around the world stop “dissing Ability.”
It’s a simple fix. To think, all it takes is a few lines of code to allow people like myself to pursue an education and a career with upward mobility. Yet, we are left to ask why can’t this be done? Really, why?
To date, the courts of our land have not made a complete determination on this subject and have refused to defer to my wisdom, even though they should because the lady they serve is also a member of the disability community. If you’re curious, feel free to read my detailed thoughts on the matter.
While I have lost my sight, I have not lost my vision for a world that is accessible, usable, and inclusive to everyone regardless of Ability even with these “unintentional oversights.” Yes, I keep telling myself even after almost five decades of the laws being seemingly ignored are simply an oversight, but I have a hard time accepting the simplicity in any of this.
My Blind Spot was founded on the ideals that were the foundation of both the ADA and the Rehab. Act yet continue to go unrealized. These laws were intended to ensure the disability community’s inclusion and participation throughout American society and cultures, yet we still have unacceptable unemployment rates that are well over 75%. If you agree that this is unacceptable, it is, and you need to tell Congress and your HR department if they will listen.
The MBS team is always ready, willing, and able to guide you and your organization toward digital equity and authentic inclusion. It makes good business sense, it just happens to be the law, and it’s the right thing to do regardless of regulations.
While we wait for technology to catch up with our dreams, as well as our collective social consciousness, let’s demand that our society, government, and business community do the common-sense things that are also just plain old good business, and make the present day as promising as our future.