Disability Inclusion & Access: Moving Forward

We believe that our community is at its best when everyone is included, and no one is left out. Disability Inclusion & Access: Moving Forward is a new initiative to support nonprofits, foundations and community organizations to be more welcoming and inclusive of people with disabilities.

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Disability is a common, frequently occurring part of the human experience. About 1 in 4 American adults has a disability that affects a major part of life, making people with disabilities the largest minority group in the U.S. Most people think first of disabilities that impact mobility, because they are visible; we can see if someone uses a wheelchair, cane or service animal. But many disabilities are not visible (mental health, hearing and vision loss, cognitive and learning differences, memory loss, chronic health issues, etc.).

People with disabilities are part of every community. In fact, people with disabilities are often specifically and disproportionately affected by community issues such as education, housing, transportation, healthcare, and violence, but these connections are not often recognized or addressed by foundations and nonprofits. Even when we focus on fostering diversity, inclusion and equity, disability is often left out of the conversation.

Nonprofits and foundations do enormous good, but we haven’t done enough to address basic accessibility barriers. Simple things can make a big difference in fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment. For example:

  • When we make public statements about equity and inclusion, make sure disability is included in our definition of diversity.
  • Host events at accessible locations.
  • In event registration, ask if people need accommodations (like sign language interpreters).
  • Make sure our websites and social media are accessible to people with low vision and those who can’t use a mouse to navigate.
  • Caption videos to make them accessible to people who can’t hear.
  • Publish reports and most frequently used documents in alternate formats, like large print.

Removing barriers invites people with disabilities in, instead of keeping them out.

Disability Inclusion & Access: Moving Forward has three components:

Disability Facts

infographic showing a map of the United States and the number 61 million with a graphic of 1 person highlighted among 4
61 million U.S. adults – about 1 in 4 – have a disability that impacts a major part of their life.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
infographic showing the number 3x superimposed over Allegheny countyIn Allegheny County, adults with disabilities are three times more likely than those without disabilities to live in poverty.
University of New Hampshire Annual Disability Statistics Compendium
infographic highlighting 1 out of 3 peopleIn Pittsburgh, almost 1/3 of people with disabilities are African-American.
ADA — PARC — Community & Work Disparities

Graphic of a high school diploma
In Pittsburgh, adults with disabilities are 3x more likely than those without disabilities to have less than a high school diploma.
ADA — PARC — Community & Work Disparities
Graphic of a large 2x superimposed over a map of the United StatesIndividuals with disabilities were at least twice as likely to be victims of violent crime as people without disabilities.
Bureau of Justice Statistics, Crime Against Persons with Disabilities, 2009- 2015 Statistical Tables, (U.S. Department of Justice, 2017)

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