When I started working at Current a few months ago, I came in with a goal of learning more about diversity, equity and inclusion in the communications industry. I felt that my work up to this point had prepared me well. I was surprised to learn that the part of inclusion that is least considered is how inaccessible communications is to people with disabilities.
I began learning about our Accessible by Design work and how involved Current Global is in various initiatives towards making communications more accessible. I had a unique opportunity to virtually attend the 2021 Disability:IN Annual Conference this week, which has only further opened my eyes towards how inclusive (or lack thereof) the communications industry is towards those with disabilities.
When I think of the future of communications, I easily and optimistically picture an industry that has diversity, equity, and inclusion seamlessly woven into its structures. Though when thinking of how we get there, the road is not as straightforward. To see the industry we want, the existing structures and ways we operate must be deconstructed and intentionally rebuilt. The way that we work, think, collaborate and communicate must be redesigned in a way that is accessible and inclusive to all; regardless of ability, race, gender, background, class and any other identity.
During the “Building A Disability Inclusive Brand” session at Disability:IN, Jake “JP” Hytken from Snap Inc. talked about the importance of including the voices of the disabled community in discussions towards change. He mentioned the “mantra of the disabled community” and I found it summarized that point very well, “Nothing about us, without us. That is how you build a disability inclusive brand.” Building a solution for others without gathering their input is not serving them and further isolates the potential for growth. Hytken mentioned that “access is not about getting it on the first try,” and I believe that is key for envisioning what long term change in the industry will actually look like.
We must listen, learn and do. These are long term changes. It may be frustrating that change will not be seen right away, but understand this work is for the future. As a young professional in this industry, I know that drastic changes are on the way, but it may be a few years until I see major changes. The changes and steps companies and brands are beginning to take now will pay off in the long run. This progress is promising and gives me hope for the future of the communications industry.