In the first two episodes of The InclusionHub Podcast, our host Sam Proulx and his extraordinary guests have taken listeners through the history of the disability rights movement, from the landmark protests of the 1960s and ‘70s to the ongoing battle for digital accessibility and inclusion being waged across the web today.
We’ve featured many of the preeminent experts leading such quests, from internationally recognized disability rights advocate Judith Heumann to Jutta Treviranus of the Inclusive Design Research Centre at Toronto’s OCAD University, Mike Hess of the Blind Institute of Technology, and Laura Kalbag of the Small Technology Foundation.
Their critical insights and experiences underscore the vital significance of the movement, its core values, and objectives. Chief among these is ensuring that people with disabilities are always involved in the conversations, strategies, and processes regarding improvements. Another is supporting the concept of implementing “accessibility by default” as technology and the web continue to advance and evolve.
They also stress the importance of perseverance—no matter how massive the challenges ahead. Without such dedication, the community may never have achieved the passage of what stands to this day as perhaps the most important piece of disability rights legislation ever crafted: the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
We’ll get into much finer details about this seminal civil rights law in the next episode of our series, but first wanted to highlight the efforts and life of one of the most quintessential figures responsible for compelling the ADA’s enactment: Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins.
Born with cerebral palsy, she began her life of activism at just 6 years old, and will forever be associated with her selfless and infinitely inspiring participation in one of the disability rights movement’s most crucial demonstrations, known as The Capitol Crawl—whereby she and dozens of others abandoned their wheelchairs and walking aids and climbed the 84 steps of the U.S. Capitol to force its passage.
We hear at length from Jennifer, who remains a personal hero to Sam and countless others across the globe. As he explains in the episode, it’s difficult to quantify her impact:
“Among many other messages Jennifer exemplified and embodied that day, there are a few in particular that are extremely clear to me, and which I hold very dear: You can make a difference. We can all change the world. Our individual actions can wield significant impact. It is important to get off your chair or your couch, or wheelchair in this case, if you can, and make your voices heard. Every single one of you listening to this podcast or reading along with a screen reader or Braille display can help spark significant change, for the better.”
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The InclusionHub Podcast is sponsored by our Founding Partners: Salesforce, a leading customer relationship management software provider; Morey Creative Studios (MCS), a HubSpot Diamond Partner Agency; Fable, a leading accessibility testing platform; and Be My Eyes, a free app connecting blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers.