During an unprecedented year, we struggled with and overcame many challenges. In the process, we learned some valuable lessons about accessibility and inclusion. In the coming year, why not resolve to apply what we’ve learned that improves lives and makes the world a friendlier and more open place?
We asked our Accessibility and Inclusion community at AT&T for their ideas on resolutions anyone can adopt to make the world more accessible, especially as the pandemic continues. Following are their top five resolutions for accessibility in 2021.
Consider wearing a clear mask or a mask with clear panel. Even with the advent of a vaccine for COVID-19, masks are likely to remain necessary for some time. Those who are deaf and hard-of-hearing often rely on facial expressions and lip movements to communicate. Fully covered faces block line of sight, making communication difficult.
Caption videos when posting online.The pandemic also exponentially grew the use of video. Be sure to let those who are deaf or otherwise have a hearing loss in on the dialogue. An added bonus: Captions can also help people with cognitive disabilities — or anyone who is multi-tasking — better follow along.
Be a tech advocate.While many people with disabilities were already accustomed to spending lots of time online, the vast shift to virtual for work and play has taxed servers, networks and, at times, everyone’s patience. However, technology may represent the only contact some people with disabilities have with the outside world, on or off the clock. Do what you can to help solve or escalate issues for those with disabilities who may not be getting the assistance they need.
Make a point to check in.Ongoing COVID-19 restrictions and measures like “social distancing” can be isolating and lead to mental health issues. Reach out and check on friends and family, even if they seem fine. Sometimes a quick phone chat can reveal tangible needs such as a new medical issue, a lack of supplies or even the onset of illness. Some individuals with disabilities have multiple medical conditions that collectively put them at higher risk of catching COVID-19 or suffering more serious consequences if they do.
Become an ally.While advocacy is part of being a good ally, people who are allies go further. An ally makes things better for the group they serve. This can mean “self-educating” about issues in the community by reading books, watching videos or listening to podcasts on relevant topics. It can also mean joining forces with like-minded people to continue educating or to collectively take on related justice, legal or political causes.
As we look ahead to brand new challenges in the coming year, we each have an opportunity to make the world more open and inclusive for those with disabilities. Be inspired and be resolved – together we can make the world more welcoming, inclusive and accessible in 2021!