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Speaker Topics

RespectAbility customizes sessions to meet your unique needs, issues and audiences. All of our speakers have disabilities and offer specific relatable stories and easy solutions. Many of our expert speakers are members of BIPOC and/or LGBTQ+ communities and reflect on intersectional experiences. We are happy to customize a session for you! We also offer a variety of specific topics, including:

Topic Descriptions

Disability 101: Ensuring Best Practices in Disability Inclusion  

What is disability? Who does it impact and how can you be welcoming, respectful and inclusive of people with disabilities? In this practical and easy to follow session, you will learn about the disability community, as well as disability inclusion and etiquette. Through humor and insights, speakers with disabilities share best practices, along with how to avoid common mistakes. After the session, you will be better able to recognize, respect and interact with people with disabilities, as consumers, colleagues, family and friends. Sessions start with 20-30 minutes of foundational ideas and tips, and then open up for questions. This topic is extremely popular as a virtual “lunch and learn” for nonprofits, governmental, equity and other organizations as well as disability employee resource groups.

Disability History

How has disability been defined in historical eras? How and why did disability movements for social and political change develop? Who have been the major national and local leaders? What major acts of legislation have defined the rights of disabled Americans? What is equal access and universal design? How do these concepts depart from previous American ideas about civil rights and equality? Learn from modern voices in the quest for disability rights about the history of the cause and how the disability community’s struggle for equal rights has come a long way yet still has a long way to go.

Workplace Accommodations 

In this informative and actionable session, participants learn strategies, resources, and procedures around workplace accommodations and meeting employer obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Learn from experts in disability inclusion and reasonable accommodations who understand your questions regarding workplace accommodations. Our speakers will demonstrate how accommodations are simpler and less expensive than you might think. Accommodations can maximize both productivity and employee retention. After this session, you will be able to accommodate the 25% of working-aged adults with disabilities and implement accommodations that allow your employees and organization to thrive. This session is popular with HR teams and managers. Studies show that companies that include staff with disabilities are more productive and profitable. Employees with disabilities bring innovation, positive morale and loyalty.

ADA 101: Your Obligation Toward Customers and Employees

This session will provide an informative introduction to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as it applies both to employing individuals with disabilities and serving the public. People with disabilities bring value as both customers and employees. It is important for every organization and company to be aware of its legal obligations. Note: this session is not intended as legal advice and will not offer CLE credit.

Best Practices: Recruitment and Retention 

From Sir Richard Branson to Greta Thunberg and Amanda Gorman – some of the most talented people have disabilities. In this session, you will gain key skills and contacts that will help you recruit and retain employees with disabilities – thelargest pool of untapped labor in the nation. Our trainers are people with disabilities who have experienced both positive and inadequate workplace practices. They will walk organizations through building an environment of inclusion. After the session, you will be able to recruit and hire disabled employees. They will become an integral and valued part of your organization. This session is popular with HR teams and managers who want to maximize employee productivity and innovation, minimize risks and expand diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. 

Creating a Welcoming, Inclusive and Accessible Organization

Studies show the vast majority of organizations want to be inclusive of people with disabilities – but they don’t know how. This practical session will provide tips to make your organization more inclusive. Your trainers will discuss small, easy-to-implement disability inclusion initiatives that will make your organization accessible to millions of people with disabilities. Larger-scale inclusion initiatives will also be discussed and explained. After the session, participantswill be able to include people with disabilities in all facets of your organization. This session is ideal for organizations that care about diversity, equity and inclusion, but that have not focused on access for people with disabilities.

How Hollywood is Working to End Ableism

Until recently, Hollywood excluded people with disabilities and/or showed disabled people in a negative light. However, this is changing fast. In this session, you will learn the trends of how many studios are paying more attention, employing people with disabilities in film and television, both on and off screen. Get behind-the-scenes insights on how breakthroughs are changing everything from children’s content and young adult series to major motion pictures.  Your trainers are entertainment professionals, including actors, directors, producers, writers and production assistants. This session is popular with Disability Employee Resource Groups who want positive industry updates regarding the elimination of stigma for people with disabilities. After the session, you’ll be able to utilize lessons learned in the entertainment industry to ensure diverse, authentic representation in your organization’s videos, multimedia and marketing campaigns.

Ensuring Accessible In-Person and Virtual Events

Seventy-two percent of nonprofit organizations say they have a policy of nondiscrimination against people with disabilities. But, few know how to take the simple steps to make their programming truly accessible. In this practical session, you will learn how to use an accessibility checklist that will help you assess a building’s accessibility and learn how to offer accommodations such as sign language interpreters, live captioning or food allergy alternatives. As many organizations continue to host virtual events, learn how to ensure they are fully accessible to all as well. This session is designed to train organizations to ensure that their practices match their principles of inclusion. This session is perfect for staff or organizations hosting events, either virtually or in person.

Ensuring Accessible Websites and Social Media

Websites are now the front lobbies of our organizations, and social media is fast replacing the traditional ways our organizations connect with the public. Research shows organizations are not yet meeting basic requirements for accessibility, such as captioned videos, screen reader-friendly designs and image descriptions/alt-text. Additionally, this session will explore accessibility specifics on social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. This online workshop gives organizations key tips to open their digital doors.

Living with a Disability in an Inaccessible World

In this session, you will learn first-hand how people with disabilities navigate a non-inclusive society, as well as steps that can make the world more accessible. Your trainers will discuss their experiences working in accessible and inaccessible organizations, providing easy solutions and accommodations. After the session, you will recognize the importance of inclusion and be able to advocate for organizations to become inclusive of people with disabilities.

Celebrating Great Artists with Disabilities

Some of the greatest artists in history including Matisse, Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo had disabilities. Highlights of their artwork and artwork by talented people with disabilities will be presented. This is a fun and uplifting session perfect for conferences and equity initiatives focusing on asset-framing, along with disability organizations and disability employee resource groups.

Ensuring A Welcoming Lexicon and Inclusive Storytelling

Regardless of intent, words or phrases can express bias. Using the National Center on Disability and Journalism’s (NCDJ) disability language style guide and other practical information, you will receive tools on how to communicate in an effective and inclusive way. This session is ideal for journalists, communication professionals and members of the public seeking appropriate and accurate language when writing or talking about people with disabilities. The session covers general terms and words on physical disabilities, hearing and visual disabilities, mental and cognitive disabilities and seizure disorders. Beyond specific language, learn from communications experts on how to ensure overall storytelling is inclusive of disabled people.

Mental Health & Wellness in the Workplace

In this session, you will learn implementable strategies to prioritize your employees’ wellbeing in the workplace. The trainers for this session are all individuals who are navigating life with mental health issues. This workshop is popular among organizations looking to increase mental health wellness in their workforce and reduce stigmas. This session is not intended to provide medical advice and is not a substitute for proper mental health supports.

Inclusion as a Jewish Value

If you are in the nonprofit sector, you live your values in your work every day. For many of us, those values spring deeply from our Jewish identity. We all know that the Torah calls upon us to be just, and to be charitable, but did you know that it also calls upon us to be inclusive? This session will teach attendees how the inclusion that you already believe in has deeply Jewish roots.

Disability & the AAPI Community: Challenges, Successes and Celebrities

More than 1.3 million members of the AAPI community have physical, sensory, mental health, learning or other disabilities. This informative session will examine the intersections of the AAPI and disability communities. The speakers are disabled AAPI professionals. They will share tips for success, inclusion and equity while also showcasing other successful disabled AAPI individuals such as Sen. Tammy Duckworth and RespectAbility Chairman and Disability Rights Lawyer Ollie Cantos. After this session, you will have the tools to connect with disabled members of the AAPI community. This is a great event for partnerships between disability and AAPI employee resource groups.

Disability & the Hispanic/Latinx Community: Challenges, Successes and Celebrities

This informative session examines the intersections of the Latinx and disability communities, helping organizations connect with the 5.2 million disabled Latinx population. All of the speakers for this session have disabilities and are members of Latinx/Hispanic communities. This session also highlights success stories, such as actress Selena Gomez, RespectAbility Board Member and Professor Dr. Victor Pineda and CEO of the United Spinal Association Vincenzo Piscopo. This is a great event for collaboration between Latinx and disability employee resource groups. 

Disability & the Black Community: Challenges, Successes and Celebrities

This session takes a deep dive into the intersections of anti-Black racism and disability, exploring its effects of the school-to-prison pipeline, police brutality, employment and healthcare inequities. It showcases some of the 5.5 million successful disabled African Americans, including entrepreneur and Shark Tank star Daymond John, U.S. Olympic gymnast Simone Biles and Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman. This is a great session for organizations looking to become knowledgeable about intersectional identities.

Disability & the LGBTQ+ Community: Challenges, Successes and Celebrities

Recent studies show that due to prejudice and bullying, members of the LGBTQ+ community are at greater risk for mental health disabilities, such as anxiety and depression. Overall, there are 11 million Americans who are members of both the LGBTQ+ and disability communities. This includes people with Spina Bifida, blindness, those on the autism spectrum and a wide range of disabilities. This session explores these intersections, discussing strategies to become more inclusive. It also highlights  success stories such as such as actor, writer and producer Ryan O’Connell, RespectAbility Communications Associate Eric Ascher and filmmaker Kiah Amara. Leaders of this session are disabled members of the LGBTQ+ community. This is a great session for DEI groups.

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