Magnifying Disabled Voices
Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the ADA
by: Michael J Gibson
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act, the civil rights law prohibiting discrimination based on disability. While the ADA provides direct legal protections to a number of specific disabilities, accessibility issues and barriers to engagement still exist in nearly every facet of day-to-day life for disabled people.
The disability community is highly diverse, and has a wide array of experiences that unfortunately are rarely represented in history or media. This makes many accessibility efforts more difficult than if we were better represented in mainstream culture. As both a marketing professional, and disabled person, it is my priority to ensure that disabled folks can make their voices heard. I ask that you engage with, amplify, and share their stories and experiences whenever possible. Here are some of the individuals and resources that I rely on to help educate and shape my own knowledge on accessibility and disabled culture. Where possible, I’ve also linked these individuals’ social media. Just click their names, and follow them for even more content!
Spotlighting Disabled Creators & Advocates The Voices of Disability project features stories of disabled people working on projects from fashion houses creating disability friendly clothing, to lobbyists pushing new government policies forward.
Disability as a Healthcare Professional
Dr. Oluwaferanmi Okanlami, part of the University of Michigan Hospital System, explains how a personal accident shaped his professional path.
Representation in Entertainment Actor Tatiana Lee has been working on improving representation of disabilities in media for years through acting, modeling, blogging, and activism. Her short film, called Head Trip, was filmed and edited in one weekend as an entry for the Easterseals Disability Film Challenge.
Race & Disability Author, speaker, and disability rights advocate Haben Girma is the first deaf-blind person to graduate from Harvard Law School. She is a regular speaker on accessibility topics and on issues affecting women of color overall.
Gaming is for Everyone Stephen Spohn, Chief Operating Officer of AbleGamers and personal acquaintance, is working to make video games more accessible. He is a community leader who has built a digital following focused on acceptance and positivity.
Mental Health without Tropes "Sanity Checks & Stigma- Mental Health in TTRPGs", a panel on accessibility and mental health in Tabletop Gaming featuring Jessica Marcrum, Shauntelle Benjamin, Noah Stevens, Quinn Rodriguez, and Scriv the Bard. Moderated by Lynne Meyer.
Disability in a Galaxy Far Away Katriel Paige, another personal friend in the disability advocacy community, wrote this insightful piece on some of the iconic Star Wars characters with disabilities and how representation can still leave much to be desired.
Called it! Imani Barbarin wrote this prophetic piece at the end of 2019 about how 2020 would be a big year for disabled folk. How much of this did you "already know?
Spinal Surgery and a Set of Dice You can learn more about my personal mission for accessibility in the Tabletop Role Playing Games and Augmented Reality industries on the go via the “My RPG Podcast” with Don Scott.
Our Needs Aren’t “Special” Rebecca Cokley examines the verbiage used around disability and just how "special needs" is less illustrative than most might think.
Oh, and one last quick item: Using the ADA to excuse not wearing a mask is way uncool. Don’t do that.
Michael J Gibson is a marketing consultant, storyteller, and accessibility advocate currently working with ARM on web design and community outreach.
He is one of 12 million visually impaired Americans, 8% of AMAB individuals with color vision deficiency (Tritanopia), 16 million American adults with Major Depressive Disorder, and one of the roughly 8,500 people per year diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
He is currently in remission, and is using his personal and professional time to lift up and support other disabled people. You can learn more about Michael’s work at www.yesthatmgibson.com/ and find him on twitter at www.twitter.com/yesthatmgibson