This page has resources for professionals working in communications, marketing, and advertising about how to include people with disabilities.
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing organizations to transition many events and conferences that originally were in-person to virtual ones. The good news is that it is easy to make online events accessible to everyone if you know how. This toolkit by the national disability advocacy nonprofit RespectAbility aims to help organizations do so.
Nearly 30 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law, research showed that pre-COVID, 70% of working age Americans (ages 18-64) with disabilities were out of the workforce, even though 71% say that they want to work. While there are systemic policy, program and legislative challenges to advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, research consistently shows that whether because of overt or unconscious bias, stigma remains the primary barrier. Which begs the question — how do people with disabilities and those who care about them crush this barrier? The short answer is positive, inclusive, hopeful messages supported by clear impactful facts that matter to a persuadable audience.
- 2020: Poll Briefing: People with Disabilities & COVID-19, SNAP, Voter Access and More
- 2020: Poll Data: Voters with Disabilities and the 2020 Election
- 2020: Battleground Poll Data Shows Disability Community is Large and Electorally Contested
- 2019: Majority of Voters Have Disability Connections
- 2018: Disabilities Affect 74 Percent of Likely Voters
- How to Ensure A Welcoming Lexicon and Inclusive Storytelling: The use of certain words or phrases can express bias either intentionally or unintentionally. The National Center on Disability and Journalism (NCDJ) provides the industry’s only disability language style guide. The guide is intended for journalists, communication professionals and members of the general public who are seeking the appropriate and accurate language to use when writing or talking about people living with disabilities. The guide covers general terms and words on physical disabilities, hearing and visual impairments, mental and cognitive disabilities and seizure disorders. Beyond specific language, learn from The Divas With Disabilities Project on how to ensure your storytelling is inclusive of people with disabilities, while avoiding inspiration porn.
- How to Ensure Accessible Websites and Social Media: Websites are now the front lobbies of our organizations, and social media is fast supplanting the more traditional ways that our organizations connect with the public. Our research shows that organizations are not yet meeting basic requirements for accessibility, like captioned videos, screen reader-friendly designs, and photo description / alt-text. This online workshop gives a nonprofit everything it needs to know to open its digital door.
- Premium Skills Workshop in Social Media Accessibility: Social media platforms raise some access issues for individuals with disabilities. Although accessibility on social media sites is limited in a lot of ways, some features do exist in each platform. Enjoy this hands-on presentation in best practices for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
Living with a disability is increasingly a part of everyday life. Whether the disability is seen or unseen, more than a quarter of the U.S. population has one, and many of us who aren’t disabled are likely to know someone who is living with one. We know that media has the power to shift the narrative around disability by better reflecting the real lived experience of people with disabilities. So, while film and TV content have made progress in depicting stories of disability, as evident in the surge of programming inclusive of disabilities and related themes over the last 10 years, advertising featuring people with disabilities lags far behind. With a $21 billion market potential, advertisers cannot afford to miss the opportunity to engage with the disabled community and their allies.
Audio Description Services
Audio Description, also known as Descriptive Audio or Video Description, narrates the relevant visual information contained in a video and is an accommodation for blind and low-vision viewers. These descriptions fit into natural pauses in the video’s audio track to provide context, to clarify speakers, and to articulate visual elements that are critical to gain a comprehensive understanding of the video.
- Deluxe Media Services’ in-house audio description department has described more than 130 feature films. Certified by the American Council for the blind, they have a database of more than 200 professional voice talents. They can provide audio description in foreign languages.
- 818-565-3600 (Los Angeles location)
- 212-824-5388 (New York City location)
- Descriptive Video Works specializes in descriptive video for broadcast programming and feature films. They have completed audio description for more than 20,000 television shows and feature films. Their audio description for U.S. networks and film studios give 22 million American viewers access to a wide variety of broadcast programming.
- WGBH’s Media Access Group has pioneered and delivered captioned and described media for more than30 years to people in their homes, classrooms at work and in the community. WGBH serves 35 million people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or have low vision. For feature films, DVS® Theatrical® allows moviegoers who are blind to hear descriptions of the film’s key visual elements without distracting other patrons.
- Woman of Her Word provides the specialized voiceover style required for audio description. Michele Spitz has produced and narrated AD for 50 films, as well as voiced AD for museum tours, educational videos and audio newsletters that provide access to information for the low vision and blind communities. Michele is a disability advocate, public speaker and philanthropist supporting arts and accessibility.
Closed Captioning Services
Closed captioning and subtitling are both processes of displaying the audio portion of a television program or video as text on the screen or other visual display, providing a critical link to news, entertainment and information for individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
- 3Play Media provides closed captioning, transcription and audio description services to make video accessibility easy. They are based in Boston, MA and have been operating since 2007.
- The National Captioning Institute is a nonprofit corporation created in 1979 whose primary purposes are to deliver effective captioning services and encourage, develop and fund the continuing development of captioning, subtitling and other media access services for the benefit of people who require additional access to auditory and visual information.In 1979, NCI developed the decoder box, and a decade later, NCI partnered with ITT Corporation to invent the first caption-decoding microchip for television sets.
- WGBH’s Media Access Group provides captioning for television shows, feature films and online videos. Its MoPix® service is a patented Rear Window® Captioning System that enables theater patrons who are deaf and hard of hearing to watch closed-captioned movies along with the general audience during any regular showing of a captioned film.
Sign Language Interpreters
The world of entertainment is a small one. Projects are produced for audiences worldwide and communication is essential for success. Interpreting in the theatre, television or film industry requires knowledge of Sign Language and knowledge of the industry. When hiring an interpreter through a service, be sure to let them know it is for an entertainment industry event.
- The Sign Language Company provides behind-the-camera interpreters to facilitate communication among the actor, director and other cast members on the set, in pre- and post-production meetings, cast reads and rehearsals, both in the studio and on location. The Sign Language Company provides services in Los Angeles, California and around the entire country.
Los Angeles Area
- LIFESIGNS, Inc. was established in 1986 to provide emergency sign language interpreting services for health care, mental health and law enforcement agencies. LIFESIGNS, Inc. responds to 40 to 50 emergencies a month and approximately 10,000+ requests annually. LIFESIGNS, Inc. provides a full spectrum of interpreter services in ten counties in the greater Los Angeles area, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- RISE Interpreting is a family-owned small business based in Riverside, California. RISE launched in the summer 2007 by the brother and sister team of Phil Carmona and Adonis Parker. Each is nationally certified and combined have more than 20 years of professional interpreting experience. Their mission is to make effective communication fully accessible between Deaf and Hearing individuals through quality interpreting and community education.
- (951) 565-4422
New York City Region
- Deaf and Hard of Hearing Interpreting Services (DHIS), Inc. serves the New York City and the tri-state area. Established in 1996, DHIS provides ASL, spoken English, signed English, CART, foreign sign language and other services.
- SignNexus provides interpreters for communication access for people who are deaf on the sets of TV shows, talk shows, game shows, reality TV and more. SignNexus is based in New York, NY.
Disability Media Sources
- For more than 25 years, ABILITY Magazine has been the leading publication for health, disability and human potential. Itshatters myths and stereotypes surrounding disabilities and brings attention to the issues, showing disability is part of the fabric in our lives. It covers the latest on topics people read every day, like health and sports. Writers and contributors include MDs, PhDs, JDs, best-selling authors, U.S. senators and advocates. ABILITY Magazineis the first to embed VOICEYE (a high-density matrix barcode system) on its editorial pages to hear print through smartphones and tablets, giving greater access to people with low vision, blindness or reading challenges in 58 languages.
- Disability Scoop is the nation’s largest news organization devoted to covering developmental disabilities. Readers include teachers, special educators, school administrators, therapists and other disability professionals in addition to parents and caregivers. What’s more, lawmakers and the nation’s most influential disability advocates rely on Disability Scoop to stay in the know.
- The Mighty is a digital health community created to empower and connect people facing health challenges and disabilities. Contributors and partners include almost 300 nonprofits and thousands of writers with all kinds of disabilities. They contribute prose, stories, videos and other media on topics important to them, highlighting how disability fits into daily life.
- A colorful, award-winning lifestyle magazine, New Mobility, encourages the integration of active wheelchair users into mainstream society with articles on advocacy, travel, employment, relationships, recreation, media, and more. Ninety percent of its writers live with disabilities, creating a vibrant culture of disability journalism and advocacy within each monthly edition. New Mobility is the official publication of the United Spinal Association. It advances the organization’s mission to improve quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries.
- NOS Magazine is a source of thought and analysis about neurodiversity culture; a culture in which neurological differences in the brain (like Autism) are celebrated as natural. It includes long form journalism, reviews of pop culture and more. NOS stands for ‘Not Otherwise Specified,’ a tongue-in-cheek reference to when a condition does not strictly fit the diagnostic criteria. People who identify as a part of the neurodiversity community will be given publication preference in order to ensure that this publication is a voice of the community.
- The RespectAbility Report features political commentary on U.S. elections with a focus on disability issues. Published by the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization RespectAbility, the report does not endorse candidates or legislation. A majority of its writers are people with a variety of visible and non-visible disabilities.
More Resources You Can Use
- Disability Training and Speakers Bureau
- African Americans
- Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
- Ending the School-to-Prison Pipeline
- Entertainment Professionals
- Faith Inclusion
- Fighting Racism and Unconscious Bias
- Hispanic and Latinx
- Inclusive Philanthropy
- Job Seekers
- Policy Makers
- Sex Education
- Spinal Cord Injuries