Get-hooked December 3, 2021
#Inclusive – Theresa Mabe wishes to see commitment to continued involvement of people with disabilities in the society
Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities 2021 and this year, the theme for IDPD is “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.”
In the fifth story of our series “#Inclusive – Building Resilience post COVID-19 in the lives of people with disabilities” we feature Theresa Mabe, a Baltimore-based, visually impaired higher education marketing professional with a degree in digital media and web technology with a focus on digital accessibility.
Know Theresa Mabe
Theresa: I am Theresa Mabe I was diagnosed in 2014 with myopic macular degeneration, a condition that progressively deteriorates my central vision. As someone who loves fashion, traveling, and entertainment, I’ve spent the last few years advocating for ways to make all of those interests more accessible. I’ve also created Accessible Influence, a resource for content creators interested in learning about accessibility so they can remove barriers from their messages and maximize their impact.
How did the pandemic affect people with disabilities?
Theresa: Both in my personal and professional life, I noticed a lot of changes during the pandemic that impacted people with disabilities. Accommodations that people with disabilities have been requesting for years, like being able to work remotely, attend virtual events and conferences, and video appointments quickly became more readily available now that they were needed by a larger percentage of the population. People without previous exposure to disabilities also started to become more aware of considerations that would need to be made in their physical and virtual environments to improve the experience for everybody.
However some of these transitions were much slower than others, and that impacted the ability for disabled people to receive information, care, and be included in making decisions that impact their experiences during the pandemic. It’s still common for there to be news conferences with important updates that do not provide sign language interpretation or accurate captioning and required online forms for things like voter registration and vaccine appointments were made using platforms that weren’t accessible to those using screen readers, or made available via home visits to those with mobility concerns.
I am glad that despite a lot of the challenges, the disability community itself has strengthened its voice collectively to continue to raise these issues where they occur, and it feels like people are finally listening.
Experience during the COVID-19 pandemic
Theresa: There have been both good and bad changes that I’ve experienced during the pandemic. My office enabled remote work for all employees, and as someone visually impaired and reliant on others for transportation I’ve been able to continue working from home as colleagues are returning to work. I’m part of several groups focused on accessibility at my job, and we’ve also been able to create accessible spaces and platforms much more quickly than we would have been able to if the pandemic hadn’t happened.
On the downside, I constantly felt like I was taking the pandemic much more seriously than many other people that I know – particularly those without health challenges themselves or in their families. I’ve had several friendships impacted as a result of people acting like nothing was different, and there is an emotional and mental toll that it takes when through their actions people show a lack of consideration for others.
3 Things that you would like to see in the post COVID-19 society
Theresa: I don’t know that we’ll ever fully be “post-covid,” but the top 3 things I’m hoping we see looking forward:
- That remote work and virtual offerings continue to be available now that they aren’t needed by everybody. I think that will be a sign to the disabled community that our presence is valued and that there is a commitment to our continued involvement in the workplace, classrooms, and events.
- I’m hoping there is continued investment in platforms and tools that bring people together virtually with accessibility being highlighted as a built in feature and not an add on that comes later.
- I haven’t seen my entire family together since December 2019 to protect my elderly grandparents and nephews who are not old enough for the vaccine. I’m very much looking forward to the day we can all be together again!
- #Inclusive – Madeline Stuart talks about lifestyle and mental health disruptions due to COVID-19
- #Inclusive – Prajith Jaipal emphasizes on collective action to build economies that deliver an inclusive growth
- #Inclusive – Brandon Cole shares the positives and the negatives of the pandemic
- #Inclusive – Meryl Evans believes that celebrating differences can make this world a better place
Support us to make NewzHook Sustainable – Make a Contribution Today
We need your continued support to enable us work towards Changing Attitudes towards Disability. Help us in our attempt to share the voices of people with disabilities that enable them to participate in the society on an equal footing!