Blog FPO

Nonprofits need to better include those with disabilities

Despite efforts to become more inclusive and diverse, it seems the nonprofit sector could do better in accommodating those with disabilities.

According to a new report from RespectAbility, most nonprofits aren’t doing enough. 

For the study, RespectAbility first conducted five focus groups with the Council on Foundations of philanthropists on whether they include people with disabilities. They then spoke individually with executives at 14 philanthropic organizations and conducted an analysis of online accessibility.

Key findings:

  • Just 14% said their organizations use video captions for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Only 30% of respondents say their organizations allow people with disabilities to request services such as sign language interpreters.  
  • Slight over half indicate their events are held in physically accessible spaces.
  • Only 24% said their boards of directors include on person with disabilities.

Bias seems to be the No. 1 reason more organizations aren’t more accommodating to those with disabilities. And it starts with the top. For the most part, according to the survey respondents, leaders and funders rarely consider disabilities when thinking about inclusion.

“More so than the inherent complexity of the issue or potential legal risks, lack of training to make it successful or any other unrelated but urgent concerns facing foundations and nonprofits, bias against people with disabilities was cited as the top reason why they are not better integrated into our organizations,” the report says. “By a large margin. Whether brazen or subtle, prejudice is a significant challenge for people with disabilities, including in the social sector.”

So, what’s the solution?

Acknowledging that people with disabilities are being excluded is the first step. At the same, recognizing the value all people – of all abilities, races and genders – bring to the workforce is equally important.

Case in point: Even though the results may indicate such, participants in the survey said organizations are at their best when everyone is included – and that means those with disabilities.

Leading by example means hiring those with disabilities and creating materials that are accessible (videos with captions for example).

Some tips from RespectAbility:

  • Use inclusive language and terminology.
  • Speak directly to people with disabilities, not at their aide or sign language interpreter.
  • Talk at eye level; if necessary, sit in a chair to be on the same level as a person who uses
  • a wheelchair.
  • Not all disabilities are visible or apparent, but this does not make them any less real.
  • Realize that people with cognitive or psychological disabilities have varying ways of
  • coping with their conditions.
  • If you aren’t sure how to interact with a person with disabilities, ask them.

Listening to Lead

​Most of us are familiar with a traditional leadership model, a bureaucratic one that leads from the top down. Decisions are made from the leaders and passed down the line to be implemented. While this leadership style has its place and purpose, in facilitation work we often challenge people to embrace a different leadership style. One that’s purpose is to seek input from all and decisions owned by the group.

Read More >
By: Savannah Phillips | Feb, 26 2020
Meetings

Top 5 Ideas to Make Conferences More Fun for Attendees

​Your association’s annual conference is likely one of the most anticipated events of the year for your members. The opportunities for networking and learning at these events seem endless… If you can keep your attendees engaged with fun, unique activities.

Read More >
By: Lindsay Gross | Feb, 21 2020
Facilitation

Am I there yet?

​One’s journey to become an “expert” in the field can be a long and winding one. It requires years of experience, training and confidence. Early in my career as I worked hard to become more skilled in my field. I looked forward to achieving that goal of being an experienced professional in the field. Somewhere along the way, I realized we never really arrive. The work and the growth always continue.

Read More >
By: Ashley Uhl | Feb, 14 2020
Facilitation

5 Tips for Better Focus Groups

While many think focus groups are an easy way to get feedback from members, it’s more than meets the eye (like most things in Associations!) Here are five quick tips to make your next focus groups the best they can be.

Read More >

Gardian of the Month: Brian Vigna

​​Brian Vigna, Instructional Designer for Event Garde, is our Gardian of the Month.

Read More >

Accounting for 5 types of unconscious bias in facilitation

​Unconscious bias can sneak into the meetings and events we facilitate. Unfortunately, this can have a damaging effect on not only participation, but on the outcomes of the facilitated experience, as well. How can we draw greater awareness to unconscious bias and counteract its negative consequences?

Read More >