Empowering People Through Advocacy

April 2021
A monthly publication from our Disability Rights and Advocacy Specialist,
Patrick Ober, J.D., Ph.D.
Hello again, CILO supporters and Disability Advocates! Below is our monthly highlight of advocacy and policy issues to know and learn about related to people with disabilities and independent living.

Social Media and People with Disabilities – Opportunities and Challenges with Access, Inclusion, and Advocacy

Social media is how much of the world currently consumes news and interacts with others. For people with disabilities, the prevalence of social media in daily lives has come with its own set of challenges, as well as opportunities for empowerment and self-advocacy. Social media has offered people with disabilities an opportunity to share their voice with the world in a way that was never before possible - what some people have labeled a “visibility revolution.” As Caroline Casey wrote in Forbes magazine in September 2020, “the voices of this new generation of disabled influencers ring loud and clear; their ownership of who they are, their rejection of the old stereotypes of what it means to be disabled, and the way they are replacing them with something so humanly compelling, relatable, exciting, informed and real.”

This month’s newsletter discusses some of these issues as well as shares powerful voices who are leading the push for accessibility and inclusion, and how you can contribute to disability advocacy in social media!

Who are Some of the Current Disability Advocates Sharing Their Voice Through Social Media?
YouTuber and author Molly Burke has over 2 million subscribers to her YouTube channel on which she talks openly about being blind and acts as a role model for many young people with disabilities around the world. In 2017 Molly became the face of Dove’s latest international ad campaign, and was asked by the Canadian Government to represent disabled youth and speak at the United Nations on how to cultivate youth leadership in the disabled community.
Named one of the "100 most influential Asian Americans of 2017," Tiffany Yu’s life experiences with a physical disability stemming from a car accident when she was young led her in 2009 to found the social movement, Diversability. This organization works to “rebrand disability through community, engaging allies, and celebrating disability pride and empowerment.” Yu identifies parenting and public education as two of the critical tools in reframing the conversation about disability at home, in the workplace, in the community, and around the world.
Tess Daly from Sheffield, England, uses her 200,000-plus followers on Instagram to promote her beauty tutorials and advertise beauty brands. Tess, who has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and uses an electric wheelchair, has worked on social marketing campaigns for companies like Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing, and other make-up brands, wishes there were more people like her when she was growing up. "So many people with disabilities have told me that I've given them the confidence, not only to embrace their disability, but to also pursue their own love of make-up." 
How Can YOU Be A Strong Disability Advocate and Ally on Social Media?
As the social media influencers and entrepreneurs above show you, the internet has provided fantastic opportunities for people to share their voice and expertise. However, just because an individual has access to a computer and the internet does not mean that the websites, social media pages, memes, GIFs, and videos are accessible to read, view, or navigate.

So, think about yourself: 
(1) Do you love posting on social media?
(2) Do you know if your posts and content can be viewed by people both with and without disabilities?

If you answered (1) YES and (2) I have no idea, you are not alone, and disability advocates are here to help! Writer, blogger, and YouTuber Emily Davison gives some AMAZING and easy examples of how to make your own social media profiles and pages accessible to people of different disabilities. A couple clicks of a button can be all it takes to instantly expand the number of people that can access and share your voice (and you can share theirs) around the world!
What About Your Business or Organization? Do They Have an Accessible Social Media Presence?
Social Media is a huge part of business and commerce, and the more customers or consumers you can reach, the more lives you can impact and the more your organization or company can grow. Access is critical to social media presence, and it is not just people with disabilities who benefit from accessible social media. A survey of Facebook users in 50 countries found that more than 30 percent of people reported difficulty with at least one of the following: seeing, hearing, speaking, organizing thoughts, walking, or grasping with their hands. That means you might be missing out on connecting with millions of social media users.

But making those accessibility accommodations is NOT as hard has it may seem. Simple changes such as your choice of colors or which font you use for text can make a big difference in accessibility to people of many different disabilities. As Georgia James says, “it’s not just people with disabilities who benefit from accessible social media. In fact, 80% of people who use captions are not deaf or hard of hearing.” In addition, transcripts and captions can help search engines identify and catalogue your videos and can even improve brand recall! Despite these benefits, “just 36% of organizations caption all their video content.” Read her easy tips and suggestions for improving accessibility on social media for EVERYONE! 
CILO Needs Your Help!

This month, CILO is asking people with disabilities across Southwest Ohio to answer a few questions that help us identify Advocacy, Independent Living, and Peer Support needs of our community this year and next! Learning this information is critical for CILO to provide services and supports that reflect what people with disabilities NEED in our communities.

We have two, easy to complete surveys that need responses, PLEASE HELP US BY SHARING AND COMPLETING THESE SURVEYS!!
·        The Advocacy Needs Survey link is here
·        The Independent Living Skills / Peer Support Needs
Survey link is here
Recent Legislative and Policy Issues for Disability Advocates to Follow

  • For decades, federal laws have allowed businesses to pay people with disabilities for some occupations below the minimum wage (“subminimum wage”). Disability advocates have been pushing for years to end this practice, and in part due to their efforts Congress introduced the Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act (TCIEA). If passed, the Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act would end the subminimum wage for people with disabilities and create new opportunities to help them get and keep real jobs with real pay. Major disability organizations such as the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network and the National Disability Rights Network have applauded the introduction of this legislation, declaring the bill a key first step to helping people with disabilities “regain our economic power, take control over our livelihoods, and further integrate into our communities. This bill will recognize our rights and build the infrastructure we need to exercise them.”
  • Thanks in large part to disability advocates, this month Congress passed the first COVID relief bill that includes emergency funding for Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS), including funding that can be used to move people with disabilities out of dangerous congregate settings. This is a huge victory for people with disabilities — but more work is needed to address systemic factors that have made COVID-19 so dangerous for people with disabilities to begin with, including Medicaid’s institutional bias. This makes the discussion draft of the HCBS Access Act (HAA), introduced this month, especially welcome. The HAA would build on the promises of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision and provide the Federal Medicaid resources necessary for states to fulfill those promises. A one-pager about the Home and Community-Based Services Access Act can be found as a PDF here.

  • Finally, the recent 2 trillion dollar infrastructure bill proposed by congressional democrats would include $400 billion (yes, BILLION, with a “B”) dollars towards Home and Community-Based Services, including wage increases to attract more quality and consistent direct support and home care staff to the workforce, an issue important to many CILO consumers.


Please reach out with any comments or questions.

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