In this GAAD special podcast, we invite Shell Little, and Magic EdTech's Eric Stano and Erin Evans to talk about where accessibility meets DE&I in the scope of education and learning. What are the ways in which organizations can come together to truly enable "Digital Learning for Everyone"? It also touches upon the little things that each of us as individuals can do starting today to ensure that we're promoting accessibility and DE&I in our day-to-day routines.
Hi, there! Welcome to today's podcast which is called Promoting the Intersectionality of Accessibility With Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. We are really excited that you all are here today to listen to this. We have posted this specifically on May 19, 2022 - which is Global Accessibility Awareness Day for those of you who don't know “GAAD” is a day of worldwide events where people around the world in Accessibility have training, podcasts, webinars, conversations around the importance of accessibility and just promoting it throughout the world. Today, we are very excited to have Shell Little join us. She is here to discuss with myself and Eric about how these 2 initiatives and principles can work together, where there are overlaps where we can start, challenges that we're facing and just promoting the conversation a little bit further. This is a passion of ours here at Magic to raise awareness around accessibility and DE&I. So with that I would like to introduce Shell and Eric to have them give a little bit of backgrounds about themselves. Shell?
Hi. Thanks so much. Um, so hi everybody. My name is Shell Little my gender pronouns are she and her. So just a bit about me I'm an Accessibility Specialist and Inclusive Design leader with you know over 8 years of experience in the field. Um, I have a bachelor's degree in user experience design - with a focus in Accessibility. So my expertise in accessibility oftentimes comes from the design side. Um, when it comes to DE&I topics, um I am a disabled person myself so these topics are very important to me. In a large portion of my career I do in-house speaking with companies to you know start these DE&I conversations around disability and help guide, you know, the beginning stages of those conversations. So I'm incredibly, you know, happy to be here today and really excited to chat more about the intersectionality between these 2 parts of my field.
Thank you, Shell.
And hi, I'm Eric Stano, I'm Vice President here at Magic Edtech. I have been in educational publishing, educational technology for the better part of 30 years. And around 2010, I really began to cut my teeth on the notion that there are a lot of students in in K12 and Higher Ed who are really at various times at at risk - they're on the bubble - and I began to think a lot about, and organized by my publishing and by my product development around, ensuring that every student no matter who they are where they come from what age they are ah you know, whatever challenges they might have facing them that they have an equal opportunity to be successful. Not only in their academic careers, but in their lives long term. So I've been thinking about diversity, equity, and inclusivity for a long time but 1 of the things that in fact, drew me to Magic was our strong footprint in the accessibility arena and I've begun to think a great deal about again these converging streams of people who are on both sides like-minded in principle to people who are committed to ensuring that products and services are accessible. And people in another cohort who are thinking about how do I make sure that students who are diverse, Um, all have an equal opportunity to succeed. So I'm excited for this conversation as well.
And I didn't introduce myself at the beginning but I'm Erin Evans I'm our Director of Accessibility Strategic Solutions here at Magic. Um I've been and have a background in educational publishing and have been focused specifically in the accessibility space for about 3 years. As Shell and Eric are here, I also have a huge passion for the accessibility field and doing our best to help other students, all students, all learners have equal access to the materials they need - specifically in a digital world. For those of you who might not know exactly when we're talking about accessibility what we're focused on - accessibility in a digital world is when websites and web tools are properly designed and coded - and that means that people with disabilities can use them. That definition comes directly from the W3C which is the web accessibility initiative and the world wide web consortium accessibility in a simpler phrase means “making sure that users of any ability are able to get to through and out of your content with a full understanding There's a lot of rules and a lot of different ways to go about making things accessible which we're not going to get into today but the goal of accessibility is to ensure that everybody has that same ability to get to the content that you're presenting whether you're in an educational space or any digital space. Eric can you define for us the diversity, equity, and inclusion principles that are guideposts for the work that we do.
Um, yeah, yeah, so when we're talking about diversity equity, and inclusivity again, this is ah sort of a new arena that's always been sort of traveling under the radar a bit but it's really broken through in education and in the industry broadly speaking. And we're talking about um, making sure that DE&I is present what we're trying to do is a few things relative to diversity: we're and trying we're trying to ensure that organizations or content or the products that are being put out there are allowing and embracing different demographic groups whether that be age, race, socioeconomic background, identity, whether there's physical or cognitive challenges that that a first may have. Diversity is is making sure that the numbers are there and aren't diverse people represented in what an organization is doing what an organization is, what an organization is, is putting out there. The Inclusion piece of that is making sure that not simply the numbers are there that there's a different range of of demographics represented but they they feel included they feel welcome, they feel like they are able to have the opportunity to succeed in an organization with content in whatever context that might be and Equity is making sure that everybody has an equal opportunity to succeed so when we talk about DE&I what we're talking about is really opening up any institution, any organization any product or any content we put out there and making sure that all people are able to feel welcomed, are able to feel like they're going to have the opportunity for success within that context.
Great. Thank you Eric so let's start with a question for all of us and um, Shell I'd like you to go first on this one. How do you support both accessibility and dei in your current or past work?
Yeah, I think that's a great question, especially when it comes to asking both like I know some people are comfortable with how you just support accessibility and some people are comfortable with just how you support more of the you know equity, inclusion paths. But for me, I don't think you can do accessibility work, without understanding disability, without understanding the people you are serving. I think if accessibility as a field without disabled voices shouldn't Exist. You know that's something I'm very passionate about where why do we do what we do in accessibility because disability rights are human rights. Um, so when it comes to you know supporting both of these I think that's what everybody should be doing when it comes to accessibility when we are you know in the field be it working in you know higher education government or in industry when we're doing accessibility work, we should always be doing advocacy work as well and I think, you know when we think of it as a Baseline. How do we start having DE&I conversations specific to accessibility? A lot of times we're talking about like champion groups, we're talking about you know divisions of allied groups where people are able to you know have experts brought in, have disabled employees be able to speak their mind and talk about accessibility as more than just a checklist. It's more than just you know a conformance. It is actually finding a way to make things work for real humans and I think we see plenty of examples of what accessibility looks like without disabled voices. Really bad Examples. You know we have things like overlays right now which is clearly compliance without human thought - Um and you know I think that's why for me, it's so important that we're doing both at the same exact time now. How that looks in every industry and every org - totally different - but you know I think if we start thinking about accessibility the field, and making sure we're asking ourselves like is this actually serving disabled people or is this serving a checklist or is this serving a legal requirement - I think that's a great first place to start, you know serving both conversations.
I fully agree and you know thinking about the checklist version of it, you know from an accessibility standpoint, in the work that we do on a daily basis - there are guidelines that we follow and they are they're a great place to start and there's a lot of really good solid direction from those guidelines but the guidelines don't take into account the human part of it and you know when I'm talking with our customers I'm always explaining that the guidelines are there to be the guide The guiding pool post. However, the user research the user testing making sure that people with disabilities are actually using your product makes a big difference because you can be technically compliant you can align to all of the standards but that doesn't mean that the product that you are trying to do is going to be fully accessible because you have to think about the usability of that product that you're putting out so it's you know, really important to think - how am I including users of different backgrounds and different abilities while I'm building this product? And while that's almost ah, a given in how accessibility is supposed to work sometimes it's amis because there is but such a focus on the technical side of the guidelines that people aren't always taking into account how does this impact my design or my users, or my flow, and I think that's a really important piece. So, Eric, what is your perspective on this and how are you supporting both accessibility and DEI in your current and past work?
Well, I really appreciate what Shell and you were both saying because I think that the checklist idea is really one that animates me but animates me in a way that I want to get beyond and I think the whole is certainly greater than the sum of its parts and I think that's what we're finding a little bit in the DEI space which again is is newer. You know ADA has been around for thirty-some odd years, DE&I as robust initiatives and organizations have been around for really the better part of 18 months and what I think we're finding when it comes to DE&I is that that checklist conceit is still in play there because it's a growing initiative, a growing strategy, and I think what, what we've found and what I found in my own work is that DE&I, when it is being a checklist will frequently leave out accessibility and people with different challenges um than you would hope would be there. So in my own work, what I've been trying to do is ensure that the content and the products we develop are accessible and available and provide opportunities for every type of student, and because Magic itself is so strong on ensuring that accessibility in the quote-unquote classic sense is present, what I've been trying to do is make sure that those 2 streams converge as as much as possible. So that if you're also thinking about diversity, equity, and inclusivity because let's admit, also a community of people who have physical or cognitive challenges, they are not a monolith either. They have different socioeconomic backgrounds they have different Identities, different races, they come from different races, etc and the same is true for DE& I there are diverse peoples who also have different challenges. So what I'm trying to do with my work is make sure that all of those streams are represented in that no matter who that student is, they have an equal opportunity to succeed with whatever we're putting forth.
And that is awesome. Thank you, Eric. So the next question is what's missing? Where are we with some of like what are some of the biggest challenges that we see in accessibility and DE&I in connecting the initiatives or even thinking about accessibility as standalone initiatives?
Shell, you want to take the first stab at that?
For me and I guess like speaking about my work you know personally, I think a big thing that we're lacking is disabled voices themselves. Um, you know there's this tokenization issue we have with any marginalized individual, any marginalized group where, um, you know I definitely have felt like I got pulled out for the dog-and-pony show once a year by certain organizations where it was like oh yeah, disability stuff that's important during you know - GAAD, during I know, we have ah disability employment month, like it's not about the dog and pony show. It's not about tokenization. So to counteract that oftentimes I'm brought into organizations to speak because I am a professional speaker I am being paid for my time - it's not a part of my role. It's not expected of me as an employee that I must speak about my disabilities and self-disclose um so I think a lot of times the best pushes I have found and the best feedback I've gotten really is from these you know, disabled people actually getting to talk about their own concerns and speak for themselves. You know there's the expression “nothing about us, without us” and it is that kind of idea where there's so much power behind someone being able to talk about their own experiences rather than learning about someone else's experience secondhand Um, so for me, you know I see that challenge where a lot of people don't have those voices. They don't know where to find those voices. You know, be it in an educational sense, like for a DE&I or even for like user studies. Um, which is great, why we have organizations that are popping up more and more that help for recruitment for these organizations. Um you know, but for me, I think that's the big thing. It's that empathy piece that's missing which is actually getting real people with real voices in to talk about their experiences. Um. But I think that gap has slowly been closing as we realize the importance and that's true like for a lot of different marginalized groups that were starting to actually seek out people with real lived experiences over those you know who don't.
And and I think what Shell just said is is really important and that notion of sort of tokenism being in the mix that you trot somebody out every time that that there's an event around - everybody acknowledging that “Yes, we as an organization do this”. The same the same pitfall I am seeing is there in DE&I initiatives where institutions are hiring Chief Diversity Officers and that's not really ah, a bit of tokenism but they're they're assigning somebody to the thing and then the rest of the organization that therefore then believes that okay, well diversity is that person's job I don't need to worry about that and I think with both both of these threads - it needs to become a much more a part of the DNA of an organization. So I see DE&I sort of falling into the same traps that some accessibility initiatives have over time.
And I think what you just said Eric about the I've hired somebody to have this role so therefore it's their job is really important. You know in a professional setting with accessibility specialists and designers who are focused on UX design there's generally somebody who has a title with accessibility Director, VP, Chief this or that, and people assume that accessibility belongs to 1 individual which it absolutely does not and Shell I think you kind of touched on that you know it's about making sure your designs are built in an accessible way, and you making sure that your product managers are thinking about that. You know as you're thinking about the product build your your engineers making sure they understand how to code the the things to be accessible and it's not just 1 person's job and by the same conversation, it's also not, shouldn't be looked at as 1 more thing that I have to do in my job so much as how can I improve my ways of working to be more inclusive and thoughtful to include everyone. Tou know from a from the certification standpoint and really being become what you would consider an expert in an area the certifications out there for DE&I don't include anything around accessibility and that's kind of a miss because you know there is that no-inclusion without accessibility because if you're talking about being inclusive of all people, that includes those with disabilities whether those are physical cognitive or whatever you know and I think that that's that conversation and mindset of people thinking “that's not my job” is a tough challenge to overcome.
And yeah and I think of this to me at least meaningful quote that I straight across not long ago from a hearing advocate, writer, etc and she was participating in a DE&I meeting with a particular organization and she had to ask the question “would you please turn on the captions,” and, it was, to me, really reflective of again one where that mindset is just not present. Even if you are engaging with a like-minded set of principled people the the DE&I organizers in this particular meeting had you know the accessibility challenges - it was an afterthought and they had to labor to get the captions up and running, so to me, it's it's reflective of what you're saying and it's also again reflective of where I think convergence of these 2 these 2 cohorts would really be productive.
Um, yeah, and I think to you know to Erin's point as well, where I also I find it true where out of all of the marginalized groups a lot of people are most uncomfortable with disability. Um, you know the way that disability has been portrayed throughout history the way has been portrayed hrough media. I think a lot of people are really really uncomfortable with a disability still and I think it's a lot easier for people to engage with conversations about race. Um, you know, even for that's a very difficult conversation to have as well um, and privilege. But it's really hard for people to even know where to begin about disability because when we think about the medical model of disability which is something that you know the community does not prescribe to anymore. But it is the concept that you something is wrong with you. Something is broken. You know so we should feel pity for you. You know it's not disabled or like handicapped. It's handycapable. It's that idea that there's nothing worse than you know the shame of being disabled which isn't true when we think about more of the social model of disability. We're talking about the fact that there's just a mismatch between someone's ability and and the environment that's given to them excuse me. So you know I find oftentimes when we are having these DE&I things, people are uncomfortable when they are toted in as as this you know VP of DE&I they don't even know where to begin talking about disability. It's not something that is as commonly talked about and commonly understood and I think that's you know why. A lot of my conversations I do a lot of talks on disability language etiquette like I basically like I joke about like don't sound like a jerk when talking about disability because you know there's so much rhetoric around disability that's just wrong and it's just you know and infantilizing and you know dehumanizing these days so even getting that first conversation in about this is how we even talk about disability blows people away because it's just not something we talk about enough so I oftentimes see it lacking because people are so uncomfortable. They don't even know where to begin. Which is why podcasts like this exists, that's so you know the conferences exist like they do, and the Twitterverse of all of the disabled individuals and voices out there too. They're out there educating so you know I'm hopefully I'm seeing a shift a little bit more and more when we're seeing more disability talked about when we are thinking about marginalized groups. But I think we still have a long way to go.
Yeah, and 1 thing that I think is important to point out is you know you were talking about when a DE&I Officer is speaking that they're not comfortable with the the conversation around disabilities - I don't think that's intentional. And I think that that's an important thing to point out I don't think anybody's intentionally saying nope not going to talk about the disability community I think it's it's a lack of awareness like I think it kind of points back to where that's not my job somebody else has that title where in fact, it's a combination right? It's - this kind of leads into a really great part of our next conversation which is you know what can we do better what do we where can we? what ideas are out there for bringing these two groups together and I think one way is just having these conversations as an accessibility advocate. Talking to the people who are the DE&I advocates and say may I have a seat at that table in your conversations to make sure that accessibility is being brought into these conversations or you know if the DE&I coordinator whatever phrase it is reaches out to people who work in accessibility to learn what they don't know and I think you know the biggest challenge that I see and the way to overcome it is education - talk about it bring awareness to it, you know, one accessibility advocate Meryl Evans often says “Progress. Not perfection” and I think it's really important to think about the baby steps and you know get that seat at the table have those conversations working together is 1 way to bring the supports together to make some impactful change.
Now and that's something that's come up in in my work and is a question just related to the challenges here. You know having accessibility included as part of the DE&I conversation is is 1 significant challenge and important one.
I just I think that's a great point too when thinking about like obviously it's not for will of. Not wanting to talk about disability. But I also think a really big point too is it should not be all on the accessibility specialist to be the one who does DE&I because what we're seeing right now and this is probably you know a topic for another day but as somebody myself going through burnout. We are seeing an incredible burnout in the accessibility field because we are so incredibly overworked because it ends up you know with a bottlenecking issue with the concept of well that's your job. We end up with people who are doing 8 people's jobs at once and getting paid for only 1 person's worth of work. So I think it's important to - If you're somebody in an organization where maybe accessibility isn't your job but it is something that you care about - be that person to email your you know DE&I coordinator to say hey are our trainings for you know, equity and inclusion accessible have we vetted our, you know, learner management systems like asking those questions and seeing like hey I saw we have one on race. I saw we have one on you know, gender identity and sexual orientation. Why don't we have training on disability? Um, you know I challenge those who it's not your core role to do so because I know putting everything on the accessibility specialist is how you get people like me who are super super burnt out and had to step step back from the field and I have all my like all my friends are in the same position too where we're just doing too much work. So I think you know not putting all that pressure on the person unless it is part of their role which sometimes people are hired in with having DE&I as a part of their role but classically, it's not.. It's not.. It's just something that gets extra tacked on so I challenge those who aren't doing it as their main role to to start those conversations too to be empowered to ask those questions or reach out to your accessibility person and ask like hey do you have the bandwidth for this because if you don't I'd love to you know, be somebody who starts those conversations too.
And and I think some corporations also have different employee resource groups and you know there have been conversations around that there are specific ERGs that will support as you were saying shell. Um. Different races or gender identities but not necessarily different disabilities and how are people working with internal systems or are things that they they face in everyday life and I think 1 hesitancy on being the quote unquote person in charge on those ERGs is that um there isn't always time for it as you were saying and while it's super important, there's no incentive monetarily or you know being given a little bit less of a load on your daily work to do some of that and there are opportunities to help be that advocate but you want to share the love right? And I think the idea of making sure or asking hey do we have trainings on all of these different things and as you said Shell, considerations for large group meetings that already have captions turned on and that somebody doesn't have to ask because maybe they're uncomfortable saying I have a hard time hearing and it would be easier for me to see and read the captions, um, you know, kind of going back to what we werere talking about earlier about that quote unquote tokenism and being pulled out. You don't necessarily have to self-identify and some people aren't comfortable with that. So what are other ways that we as groups can look at just being considered in the easy things we can do to help be supportive of everyone.
And I think what you just said there Erin and Shell alluded to this too, is that you know, these conversations are great and are important and are necessary but what needs to follow those conversations is really Investment by organizations and institutions in ensuring that again - Everybody has an equal opportunity to be successful in whatever context that is um, you know when there's there's a lack of investment that people do get over burdened and they do burn out and the good work that they're doing is blocked if there's there's not a sufficient level of support coming from that organization. So I think the conversations need to lead to some actual investment and some actual infrastructure to ensure that everybody can be successful and I think businesses you know when they they see that there's a price tag associated with this I think part of that conversation also needs to be around the business imperative to ensure that your employees can be successful, your students can be successful, your products are meeting the needs of of everybody who would avail themselves of it. There is a material business good to ensuring that everybody can see themselves in whatever it is if they're they're looking at it. In whatever it is that they're using and are able to actually use it in the way that is intended there. There is ultimately there's a top-line benefit to any company. So it's not just a moral and social good which it is both. But it's also for for any organization or institution, it's also a business good and I think that that needs to be part of the conversation as well.
Yeah, it's a hard balance between you know, doing something because it's right and doing something because there is a price tag to it unfortunately like I always remind people money talks, especially in industry, and unfortunately that's why we see you know the United States being so litigious when it comes to accessibility because you know oftentimes it is do this or you have an $8000000 lawsuit um but I do think that what's nice is that we're seeing this shift where the conversations I feel like are less about money which you know they always will be about money I know the number that I like to throw around is you know the dispensable income a like this is post-tax of working age individuals with disabilities is five hundred billion - that's billion with a b um, you know worldwide and that's a lot of money that's sitting on the table if you're not inviting everybody to be a customer or a client or student. Um, but at the same time I think we are starting to see a bit of a shift away from you know it only has to be a conversation about money which will you know like I said will always be a piece of the puzzle um, but you know it's a two-sided coin where you know on one side. It's the right thing to do on the other side. It's legally required in certain aspects. You know on one side of the coin. It's a feel-good. You know inclusion thing on the other side's there's a lot of money sitting on the table too. So I think it's important you know I feel like we have more conversations about money than we do have conversations about it's the right thing to do. But unfortunately, you know we live in a system where money talks and if you're trying to get you know upper management on Board, sometimes you're going to have to talk about the money that's on the table. Um, rather than it being. You You know right? and about civil rights and human rights. So It's, it's kind of ah a tightline to walk I think it's it's a tough conversation to have just about why we should be doing what we're doing. You know.
And I actually like your example of a two-sided coin because we're talking about money and the example used is currency. So I think that that was a really apt way of characterizing that. So, so thank you for that. Also think just one thing I wanted to to put into the the conversation again - there's there's a lot of challenges before us before we can get this right and it's probably more a journey than a destination but one of the things that I find myself talking about and Shall I’d be interested in your reflections on this - Erin you as well. Um, is this notion of incrementalism. How do we move fast? How do we move efficiently to make sure that we're we're including everybody as quickly as we can and as appropriately as we can? Because those who are animated by this conversation both in a DE&I and an accessibility you know, context yesterday is too late because opportunities are being lost every day if somebody is not able to be successful with, within an organization or with a product or or what have you and what I found people struggling with is this notion of incrementalism. Well who do include or think about in this particular context in my organization or with this product and who am I going to end up leaving out and anybody left out is always a minor tragedy. So what I find as a challenge is how to advise people on getting around about how do they, how how do people best grapple with that that - and Shell and Erin I'd be really interested in in your thoughts on how people just approach that kind of thing.
So I think 1 thing that is really important is that nothing is going to change overnight and it is true for some people, you know, things should have been done yesterday but you know every day presents a new opportunity to make progress right? And you know from an individual standpoint, let's pretend that you're somebody who's very active on social media and you yourself don't rely on any sort of screen reader software. But if you post a picture to Instagram go and add an alt text to it do a little bit of something that you can you have an individual impact even if your account is private, nobody that you know might need it. You never know maybe 1 of your friends had eye surgery and is using voiceover for a short amount of time you know there are things that we can do as individuals to make a broader impact and you know if 1 person tells their followers on Instagram “hey guys, did you know about this advanced settings and you can add alt text” maybe somebody else will try it and kind of have that that domino effect. Um I also think that it's really important to celebrate those small wins. You know the accessibility community has been fighting for a really long time to make some inroads and the pandemic in some ways had some good outcomes in that it has increased the awareness around inaccessible digital means right? Inaccessible apps. Kiosks at a um at airports, or different places that users with disabilities can't always get to, so it it has broadened the conversation in a good way. But there's still a lot of work to be done and sometimes you know it's not about being the first - it's about doing it in a way that makes the most sense recognizing that you can't do everything for everybody all the time yesterday. But what can you do to have some broad impact and just keep chipping away and you know you move the mountain 1 stone at a time.
So yeah I think that's a great point where it's about bite-size chunks. And I think like I am somebody who really really struggles with the lack of movement. Um, you know I want change yesterday and I think that's something over the past you know. However, many years of my career that I've had to learn slowly is that you know like you said things don't change overnight and it's slow and steady. It's the slow changes as the small changes and like I I say “change hearts, change minds,” and I think when we're talking about just accessibility as a field in general I think it does apply to the DE&I stuff too where it is about slow consistent advocacy. I don't tell anybody why they should be designing something that way without mentioning the human element behind it. Well hey somebody who has pain in their hands - keep in mind every time they use a keyboard, that's one more you know jolt of pain. So how can we minimize that let's you know. Let's not do it this way. Let's do it that way because there's a human behind the decisions that you're making these affect real people and I think you know I've seen it over the course you know, um at my previous role ah started was the first hire of the accessibility group and then left - 13 strong. You know, like however many we have now um and saw the changes I went from starting the mobile department where no one wanted me to be in the meetings and I was yelled at you know in these meetings to now like before I left it was hey we have a project coming up in four months we'd love to know if there's any red flags for accessibility. It is that slow and steady change and I've seen it over time but you know being in it and never feels like enough but it's easy to look back and see how far we've come so I think for people who are feeling that crunch. You know it takes patience. It takes time. Um, but at the same time I never want to tell people that. you should be happy with scraps. That's another like hard thing where it's like it. It should already be there. But um, it is tough because I oftentimes you know? For example, like if trainings not accessible. That's one a huge pet peeve of mine. Um, you know if it something like training is not accessible, you should never have to you know “Well oh at least it has captions,” because like if if your rights aren't being met, you know what? I mean if your needs aren't being met, it's okay to feel left out I feel like sometimes I have conversations with people who have been you know working and disabled longer than I have who are happy with scraps because they're used to getting nothing so even just a little bit a crumb at the table is better than nothing and I think we need to set our sights higher than crumbs. But at the same time you know a cake is you know a lot of little crumbs so together eventually you know I feel like if we're all pushing harder and pushing further, we can get somewhere but it is tough to balance that not enough too much I want it now, I don't want to wait kind of mentality and that's something I struggle with too a lot I'm still working on you know, being okay with small movement forward and stuff.
Yeah, and it can be exhausting and it is you know if you look at it from from inside. It's ah it's a huge mountain to climb and it is hard to sometimes you know take a step back and see how far you've come. I can say in the work that I've done specifically in accessibility I've seen huge strides but it's taken a long time and there's so much farther to go. But then I take solace in the fact that that progress is tangible, and visible and you know I feel rewarded when we can continue those conversations and say look guys, this was something we didn't do and now we're doing it and it's part of our everyday common practice. Let's add onto that because that's how we're building that empathy. We're building the understanding and the training and you know when 1 person understands it they then share it with somebody else and I think that that that empathy, the training, the conversations are all really important to move forward in this conversation.
And yeah and it's almost a perverse thing to say because it's such a pyric victory. But there's a small element of me that is at least grateful for what the pandemic threw into Sharp relief relative to some of these issues when every student had to go home and blur from home. Um, you know the fact that it was impacting children and adult learners. You know it became very clear where some of these gaps are and exactly how much risk we put into the system by leaving out different types of people. So I think on both the DE&I and the accessibility front the pandemic at least through, however temporary it might be because people have very short memories unfortunately, at least for a time, these issues came to the forefront.
And I think as evidenced just by this short conversation. We could talk about this for hours which would be a lot of fun but you know I think this is a great place to start the conversation and Shell, we're really really excited that you were able to join us and share your thoughts on this topic and we would like to invite those of you who are listening to leave your thoughts in the comments below or feel free to send us an email. Our email addresses are linked beneath here as well, so we would love to hear from you. Shell or Eric, do you have any closing thoughts that you would like to share?
And I'll just say I'm I'm grateful to both you and shell for your your reflections and again while conversation is not the end goal here - having these conversations helps move us move us forward and I am grateful that I’ve just been able to participate in as many conversations as I've had recently around both accessibility and DE&I and having both of those strategies initiatives and like-minded people beginning to to work together I'm just grateful to see that that's, again, we talked about crumbs but I'm I'm grateful to see the gathering of crumbs and maybe we'll get a cake one day.
Yeah I just thanks so much for having me on today. Um, it was great to have this conversation and I'm glad people are having more conversations like this. Um, you know to the audience interacting with this you know, go, check out some disabled people's blogs go on Twitter and look up you know. Hashtags like #ActuallyAutistic and you know there's a ton of really good ones #CripTheVote you know, check out what disabled people are actually saying listen to those voices learn from those voices. Don't expect disabled people to teach you but those who are make sure to pay attention. Um, and yeah, thanks again for having me today and I look forward to this hopefully sparking more conversations moving forward.
So great. Thank you both for joining us and thank you listeners for being here. We appreciate it have a great day.