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From the Editor

Has your child ever been excluded or been made to feel uncomfortable at work, play, school, or anywhere in the community? Our children who have disabilities, young or adult, can be more vulnerable to injustice and disrespect, from playground and social media bullying to work inequity. 


Starbridge embraces its Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Belonging (DEIAB) initiative, currently spearheaded by Ida Jones, Vice President, Organizational and Workforce Development/HR, and Bethanne Crane, Director of Quality Improvement & Corporate Compliance. We asked Ida and Bethanne to share this important Starbridge commitment with us in the following interview.

Happy summer to all!

Best to you and yours,

Maria Schaertel


What is DEIAB?

DEIAB is a term used to describe policies and programs that promote the representation and participation of different groups of individuals, including people of:

  • different ages,
  • races and ethnicities,
  • abilities and disabilities,
  • genders,
  • religions,
  • cultures and sexual orientations
  • diverse backgrounds, experiences, skills and expertise.

Ultimately, diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility and belonging is about respect. Equity and fairness is a fundamental component of respect. To treat people disadvantageously because they belong to a given demographic group is inherently unfair and disrespectful.

Interview with Ida Jones and Bethanne Crane

Ida Jones

Bethanne Crane

How did the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Belonging (DEIAB) initiative come to be here at Starbridge? Who (or what group) initiated it?

Focusing on diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging has always been a priority for Starbridge. These values have been incorporated in our mission, as well as our day-to-day work, since inception. In recent years, Starbridge has developed focus areas within our DEIAB work, and we have directed our efforts to those focus areas based on Starbridge’s strategic needs and initiatives.

What do you hope to accomplish through Starbridge’s DEIAB initiative?

By committing to embracing the values of DEIAB and by demonstrating those values in our work, we strive to achieve structural change in our workplace and advance positive change in our community. By challenging ourselves to look at how we do our work and in making a commitment to collaborate with others to discuss feedback and common themes – even when uncomfortable – we strive to use these insights to improve our ability to:

  •  to diversify our reach to historically excluded communities and identity groups
  •  to attract and retain diverse staff
  •  to expand our thinking to make room for new voices, focus, and improvements

What are the unique challenges you have encountered when considering DEIAB for people with disabilities?

It is well documented that individuals with disabilities have a long history of being excluded. It is important to invite those with disabilities to the table, and bring education and awareness to the greater community about all that every individual has to offer. In working to transform our communities to include everyone (as our Starbridge mission states), we hope we are also making progress in shaping how the community views individuals with disabilities for the experience, wisdom, and knowledge they have to offer. Starbridge also strives to work closely with individuals with disabilities to empower people to pursue their goals, advocate for themselves, and assist them with accessing resources.

What does “belonging” mean to you?

Belonging is knowing that we are able to bring our authentic selves and all the pieces that make up who we are as individuals. Belonging is a critical component of DEIAB work. While inclusion is being invited to the table, belonging is feeling secure and accepted enough to fully participate while sitting at the table.

A Parent's Perspective on DEIAB

Inclusion has been something that my son and I have had to always advocate for! My son uses a wheelchair, so inclusion barriers came from lack of physical accessibility in different settings as well as personal perspective made from visual assumptions.

Assumptions that have and continue to be made by others include the assumption that he is not verbal or have the ability to communicate or comprehend. Individuals at time look at him and go directly to me to ask questions, and I always have to let them know that they can talk to him directly. Even after doing so at times they may continue to not include him in conversations which impact accessibility to engagement as well as opportunities for community participation or developing of relationships. These have and continue to keep my son from experiencing inclusion on many levels.

His experience with intersectionality includes multiple factors of disadvantage: Oppression and impact from not just his disability which is physically seen but also from his race, ethnicity and class, which are not as easily visible.  

Additional Resources

I’m not your diversity statistic, by Emily Ladau

Executive Order on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce

Intersectionality – Dating and Disability, Starbridge, YouTube

Intersectionality – Disability and Sexuality, Starbridge, YouTube

Intersectionality – Beliefs and Disability, Starbridge, YouTube

Intersectionality – Not a Trend but a Reality, Starbridge, YouTube 

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