Disability & Diversity

Writing about disabilities feels a little heavier than typical blogging due to the sensitive nature of the subject and since it is both my intent and my responsibility not to offend any readers.

I agree with I am Tyler (http://imtyler.org/index.php/video/) that people with disabilities should be defined by what they can do and not held back by what they are not able to do.

I believe that through awareness and understanding, disabilities are being viewed less as a limitation that holds an individual back from experiencing a fulfilling life and more as just the diverse nature of humans.

According to Pew Research Center, 12.6% of Americans have a disability (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/07/27/7-facts-about-americans-with-disabilities/) This number means that one in every eight Americans has serious difficulty with at least one of four basic areas of functioning – hearing, vision, cognition, and ambulation.

I have met a few adults in La Crosse who are disabled. Like all other humans, they are unique people who view themselves and their abilities in different ways. Just as disabilities vary, each individual lives his or her disability in his or her own way.

Universally, however, I believe people with disabilities want to be treated with respect. Typically, I try to be as helpful as they want, but I have found that most people with disabilities adapt to their differences and do not want anyone’s pity or assistance.

This is undeniably something marketers need to consider as our world is a diverse place to live. Especially in the United States, our society is recognizing more diverse races, ethnicities, religions, genders, abilities and sexual orientations than ever before.

As my biology teacher in high school used to say, “variety is the spice of life!”

In fact, the United States was founded on the principal of safety for diverse groups of people to live without fear of persecution. We are truly a great melting pot of unique individuals who can not only learn to live together but to make the most of our differences.

Afterall, each person possesses a unique perspective of the world cultivated through his or her own experiences. These individual realities translate into different ideas and abilities being brought to the table when we collaborate.

Today, in our digital world of smart phone cameras and social media, companies are being held liable for their treatment of living creatures on Earth.

Now, your business is much more than the products or services you offer as many consumers base their purchase decisions in part on altruistic ideas of what a company stands for and how they treat people.

Individuals and companies that are closed minded and intolerant are being passed over and, in some instances, vilified. There are more options for consumers to spend their money elsewhere.

Additionally, consumers want to work with businesses they can relate to. Companies are realizing the need to represent diversity in their promotions in order to succeed. This is evident through Madeline Stuart – a 19-year-old down syndrome model, and Rebeka Marine – a 29-year-old model with a prosthetic arm, to name two, who have both walked the runway during New York Fashion Week.

Marketers need to be aware, consumers want companies to evolve to embrace and represent the diversity of the world all round us, or else risk going extinct.

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