Most of us have had the feeling that we didn’t belong at some time in our lives. Whether you were a gawky adolescent struggling to find your identity, or working in an environment in which your personality does not fit. For people in a minority group, this feeling is ever present. People feel isolated from society, especially individuals with disabilities. It is getting better, but we have a long way to go. AWS Foundation is dedicated to making Northeast Indiana an inclusive community for individuals with disabilities through advocacy and grantmaking.
ADA requirements are the bare minimum a business or organization must do to accommodate individuals with disabilities. Yet people are still excluded. It takes special building design considerations like placing the elevator next to the stairs, programming that makes adjustments for those with special needs and advertising that includes individuals with disabilities without making them stand out. Science Central’s Special Abilities Days makes extra accommodations for sensory sensitivities such as lower noise levels, increased light in dim areas and extra staff create a safe and inviting environment for an enjoyable experience. The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership has done a fantastic job including individuals with disabilities in the diversity of their promotional materials.
With the creation of the City-County Disability Advisory Council, the greater Fort Wayne area is moving in the right direction for inclusion. We see a growing number of organizations making efforts each year. Our challenge for you in 2018 and beyond is to think about what you can do to create a more inclusive community. Feel free to run your ideas by us and together we can make a difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities.