The UC Santa Barbara Associates Students Commission on Disability Equality held a workshop and presentation in the MultiCultural Center on Feb. 16 to educate on accessibility and inclusion in workspaces and organizations in UCSB’s community.
Commission on Disability Equality (C.O.D.E.) Co-chair and External Affairs Coordinator and fourth-year sociology major Sophia Lee-Park hosted the “Accessibility is Love and Community Care: A Dignity-Infused Community Engagement Workshop” as part of the MultiCultural Center’s Empowering Student Leaders Series.
The workshop sought to “build back communities and organizations by integrating accessibility,” according to Lee-Park.
“15% of the world’s population is disabled. It’s important to remember that some disabilities are visible while others are not,” Lee-Park said. “Disability doesn’t really have a look … Our community is visible in many different ways beyond the labels that we give ourselves.”
In addition to Lee-Park’s presentation, a series of educational videos were shown that aimed to raise awareness on intersectionality, inclusion and justice within the disabled community. Lee-Park provided a disclaimer that the presentation and workshop were derived from personal experiences.
“[The presentation] is derived from my experiences as a person in the disabled community. We do not experience ableism equally,” Lee-Park said.
The videos discussed topics of intersectionality, diversity in the disabled community, allyship, inclusive language and the unequal hiring of individuals with disabilities.
“In reality, we want to hear things like, ‘you’re hired,’ ‘you have medical coverage,’ ‘you got the promotion,’” Lee-Park said.
She highlighted the importance of learning about the history and culture of those with disabilities, underscoring that many people are uninformed about these important topics. A section of important terms, such as allyship, ableism and types of disabilities, relating to accessibility and inclusion was also provided for attendees to refer to. Lee-Park further expressed her belief that more non-disabled people need to become more involved with the disabled community.
“Not many people are educated on disabled people, history and culture,” Lee-Park said. “More people who aren’t disabled need to be in disabled spaces to listen.”
Much of the workshop focused on teaching participants how to build and plan events that are inclusive and open to those in the disabled community, by designing accessible promotional material, proper labeling, maps with clear directions, warnings before loud noises and lights occur and providing further accommodations for those who need them, such as interpreters.
Lee-Park advised that event planners always ask themselves, “Is this series of activities enjoyable and comfortable for everyone?”
“Accessibility is an ongoing act of community care and a collective commitment, not an afterthought,” she said. “Students want two things: to be accepted for who they are and to feel like someone is looking out for [them].”
A version of this article appeared on p. 5 of the Feb. 23, 2023, print edition of the Daily Nexus.