Becoming More Accessible: Innovation, Inclusion and Insights

During this candid conversation we discuss innovation, interrupting unconscious ability bias, and using technology and culture to create transformational change in accessibility.

The author(s)
  • Janelle James SVP, Qualitative
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As DEI efforts become more mainstream and organizations work to make their marketplace and workplace initiatives more inclusive, it’s imperative to think about illuminating the experiences of those on the margin, amplifying intersectional stories that touch ability, and including the most diverse, and often most forgotten, minority group: people with disabilities. 

When we talk about ability in Ipsos UU, we talk about neurodiversity, mental health, physical or cognitive challenges, body size, and chronic illness. Americans with disabilities are an incredibly diverse group and the largest minority group at 25% of the country. Consumers with disabilities are those with long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory challenges which hinder their full participation in society on an equal basis with others. People with disabilities are fans, gamers, users, investors, employees, customers, and influencers. Accessibility in products, services, platforms, communications, and environments not only create equity for those among us with long-term challenges, but they also make everything easier to use for everyone in our society.

Listen in as Ipsos’ Janelle James moderates a candid conversation on innovation, interrupting unconscious ability bias, and using technology and culture to create transformational change in accessibility. She is joined by talented business leaders who are ability advocates working to advance accessibility with empathy:

  • Wendy Grauer, Senior Qualitative Consultant, Ipsos
  • Noah Rosenblatt-Farrell, Qualitative Strategist, Ipsos
  • DBora Schrett, Consultant, Elite Healthcare Management
  • Todd Tourville, Sign Language Interpreter
  • Lee Stuckey, Founder And President Of AHERO

Today’s AI-generated audio transcript is offered below. Apologies in advance for inconsistencies that have been included.


Thank you for joining us for today's Ipsos Virtual Roundtable discussion about becoming more accessible and tips for keeping inclusion initiatives at the heart of your research.


Today's roundtable guests are among the most talented executives in the industry and you can read more about them in the slides in front of you.


Throughout today's session you will remain in listen only mode however throughout the webinar you may submit questions online using the Q and A feature.


Time permitting we'll answer questions at the end of today's session. However, if timelines short then your question will be answered by e-mail.


Today's webinar is also being recorded and will be directly e-mailed to you.


So now without further ado it is my pleasure to introduce today's moderator Janelle James Senior Vice President with Ipsos UU.


So now you have the floor.


Thank you so much Elen and thank you everyone for joining us today.


I am so thrilled to host this conversation with so many amazing executives that you'll get the chance to meet. But would love to start by sort of grounding us and where we are and what we're gonna be talking about today.


We, as a society, typically create communications, products, and even laws, to be consumed, received and implemented under perfect circumstances, when in reality few perfect scenarios exists for for consumption, but state TV ads or any video that can be consumed on demand, what would you add, change or remove knowing that a third of the people watching the video can't or won't hear it?


13% of Americans are blind or low vision.


How would you re-imagine packaging or a mobile app? Keeping that in mind?


a woman with an intellectual disability is 12 times more likely to be sexually assaulted.


How would you re-imagine any technology, media, or communications device, keeping that in mind?


We have an opportunity to look at a Prime prospect for inspiration, but use the lowest common denominator in all of our audiences for implementation. How would this mindset re-orient your work?


That's the impetus for today's conversation.


and I'm excited to have Lee Noah Wendi entire tied into Borah here today to talk about empathy and design, and connecting with people with varying levels of ability.


When we talk about ability. And, if so, see you, we consider a wide range of challenges: neurodiversity, body, size, chronic illnesses, sensory, physical, or cognitive disabilities and mental health.


So that range is the backdrop for today's conversation.


Additionally, we'd love to explore intersectionality with all audiences.


And part of what we'll try to do today is understand what empathy can look like when identities and experiences converge, likeability, class, gender, race, age, and even military status.


With that, I'd love for us to jump into the conversation. As always, I love for our guests to introduce themselves.


So, if we can start with Noah, tell me a little bit about, you know, what you do currently, your role, how it touches. Working with people. we're connecting with people of different ability levels. And if you can share a recent project or initiative that you've worked on, that would be great as well.


Yeah, so, my name's Neuro Rosenblatt farewell. My title is Qualitative Research Strategist, but I have been doing strategy consulting and market research for about 20 years. Moderator. So a lot of what I do is just talking to people, having conversations, usually, 30 minutes, 60 minutes, 90 minutes to hours, whatever it is. really trying to get to know people and understand what's going on for them. My background is, I have a PHD in visual studies. And before I came tips, as I actually worked for 12 years as a professional photographer, and my specialty was photographing people who didn't like to be photographed, which included a lot of people actually. And, you know, my feeling is that there's beauty in everyone, and that's kinda the photographer's job to find that beauty and bringing out through the image.


Before I started my research career, I worked in a surgical oncology office, and I saw five patients come through who are team and feeling good, feeling healthy. And then kind of had to transition here because of amputations complications through surgery and just learning to deal with. just those new conditions really opened my eyes recently.


In terms of projects that, I did, I actually just finished research with the population, with limited vision, disease kitchen conditions. I've also worked with populations of people who have mental illness.


Yeah, a lot of a lot of really index learnings from people in home. Research is something that I really like, because it gives me a chance to see other aspects of their life, not just the topics that we're talking about. So, I'm thrilled to be here, and thanks for having me. Wonderful. Thank you so much, Todd, Europe. Next, if you could take about a minute to introduce yourself and tell us about what you do and how you touch people with all levels of ability.


Sure. So, I'm tied to our bill. I'm an interpreter educator. I'm a professional sign language interpreter. Have been for 30 law, I don't know, I don't do the math 30 plus some odd years. Anyway. I've worked full-time as at, as faculty, an interpreter training programs.


I do a lot of freelance interpreting work.


I've worked in legal systems, mental health systems, medical, chemical dependency, all kinds of sort of systems in that regard. I do actually currently work as a video relay interpreter and so that would be me sitting on the TV screen.


A Deaf person connects via video phone, talking to their doctor Alexei. But what's interesting about that sort of venue is, it's the Jetsons, it's the Video TV Carter arbitrary new button.


And now we're actually have them in somebody living room.


So when you meet somebody in public and you're working with them, venue in my Frozen. Can anybody hear me? No, you're good. Everyone on my screen is frozen or you're all frozen on my screen. I don't know if I disconnected. So anyway, that's me I'm an educator, a person who has worked in conferences I work a lot with people with all kinds of disabilities. Deafness. affects a lot of people in a lot of multiple disabilities. So yeah, that'll be me in a nutshell. There you go.


Wonderful to, Laura. You're up next.


Yes, hi. My name is Deborah Charette, and I am a population health and outcomes expert in public health and policy series sectors. I've worked over about 20 years plus and challenges related to health equity, healthy quality, and outcomes research. And I partner right now with several different types of doctors in oncology, for example, MDs, PHD scientists, pies, and so forth.


And the recent project that we worked on, for example, is one where we did a pilot bringing different caregivers and patients in contact with actual doctors and PH, PHDs, as well as students and training scientists and medical doctors to be. And the purpose of that was to understand, or have them understand each other and be able to communicate.


In other words, when the, when you're being trained as a doctor or an oncology or any type of medicine, you know, typically, get to work with the patient until you actually need one. Your, their experiences typically are with the mice in the lab.


So when they finished, and they walk into the office, and there's a patient, and it's like, So who are, you know? So that, the purpose of getting them to understand the actual patient who was not a mouse. And to understand their needs or cares and concerns in an effort to also be able to improve clinical trials and outcomes research. So interesting to think tanks. Or probably more than that, but primarily with health equity and population health, with the University of Virginia Green Prompt Greenbaum, Health Care Oncology center, as well as Cancer Prevention and Cancer Outcomes Research.


Well, thank you so much. Europe next.


All right, hey, everybody. Thank you for the opportunity. Les stuck. Yeah, just retired from the Marine Corps after over 22 years.


Been running a hero, which is America's Heroes, Enjoin Recreation, outdoors for almost 13, while on active duty.


Now, we brought in over 11,000 service members and saved hundreds from suicide.


Also started, I was a founder of Operation Phoenix, which is another non-profit that focuses on given veterans and first responders, a new sense of purpose, for a while. Then firefighting prescribed burning and natural resources.


And then I've been hired by tall timbres research to do prescribed fire and really, just bad.


An awesome opportunity after retirement, to continue to give back to the community, continue to help impact the state of Alabama, which is where I'm from. No longer be a guest in Alabama.


Be back live in here, which is great.


The new program that we then work in with all of our supporters, with the help of Tol Timbres, Operation Phoenix, a Hero, mid-south, R C, and D, which is Resource Conservation Development.


And the other partners that we have locally in Alabama is getting veterans and first responders out of their house hadn't been trained on wildland firefighting prescribed fire regardless of whatever injuries they may have as long as it's safe.


And showing them a new sense of purpose.


And a new thing that they can do to get outside of their heads and get out of their house. And give back to their community.


And the impact, you can see it. And if you can't, because of visual impairment, you know it from being told that you're making an impact on the stay.


And you're improving natural resources and veterans and first responders, we have an identity crisis, and when I retired as a major in the Marine Corps, there was a uniform, there was a job associated with that uniform. And now I'm just late.


And I have to remind veterans and first responders. That's not your identity.


The military and being a first responder was your ability to grow and learn new things, but I've always been Lee.


And so if I can get them to shift their focus on that doesn't define them, that was just a chapter in your life.


Now let's move to Chapter three and build off what the military and being a first responder taught you with those core values and get it back. So it's just really neat.


Have everybody step up and believe in what we're doing and continue to help people and save their lives for suicide.


Wonderful. So glad to have you and thank you for your service, Lee. Wendy, you're next.


Hi, my name is Wendy Grauer and I'm a Senior Qualitative Consultant on the Ipsos team. I've been moderating for 25 years. And I have a passion for including plus size and consumers with disability in my research because there is so much information that you can gather by the workarounds. But a lot of these consumers are having to perform with products and services that can provide great innovation insight for the general population.


So I have a child of high functioning autism, and I've worked for 17 years as a brand leader for a brand leader in diversity and inclusion, designing experiences for consumers with disabilities.


And I'm currently wrapping up a Global Tech project that included a representative, representation of insights from able-bodied, blind and wheelchair respondents from the US, Germany and Japan.


Wonderful, so glad to have you guys. The thing that I'd love to do at the start of these conversations is have everyone come up with a nickname for themselves but not any old nickname.


I'm interested in your nickname that helps me understand what your priority is when you're connecting with or serving people with disabilities.


So I know that's kind of a creative or weird task. But I'm going to ask each of you to share a nickname with me. So, Wendy, do you want to get us started?


So nicknamed myself the All Abilities Advocate. Because our clients have assumptions about how the general population population is using their products and their services. Yet, many are often pleasantly surprised by the insights that we gathered through the depth of qualitative research. Even from a fairly familiar target demographic. Yeah. So imagine the insightful learned when a client engages consumers in those collaborative conversations, who don't have the ability to see, to hear, to move about easily.


So when we invite consumers with disabilities to the table, we're not only breaking down barriers and interrupting bias.


I advocate advocating for these marginalized groups. We're ideating and we're innovating for populations who are creating their own workarounds to maneuver the marketplace. And they're going to effectively and efficiently meet their needs. So we can learn so much from them. That can increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the masses as well.


OK, Noah, Mcbain, I gave myself the nickname the transporter, because what I tend to do is talk to people and get information from them and then trying to deliver it to the clients and help them understand and especially with this population. I find that there's a lot that happens in that transport process, because there's so much going on in the lives of people with uncontrolled viewing. That can be really challenging for the clients understand if they don't wonderful career with that population. So that's my, that's my transporter, Lee, Europe next nickname.


Yeah, my mind would be the lifeline and my mother was my lifeline back in 2009 when I was struggling after a combat deployment.


And I went to take my own life and I was pulling the trigger on a pistol and my mother called my cell phone as I was committing suicide. And save me at that exact second.


Which started a non-profit in helping over 11,000 now.


So, now I want to be the lifeline for everybody else, and make sure that a hero is the beacon of light and hope for all of those that are struggling.


I love that your mother was an inspiration and literally a lifeline and that you've, you've turned that into something out, others that is amazing. Todd nickname.


I'm gonna go with the Wizard of Oz because I'm that guy behind the curtain that you're not supposed to see, but is always there and doesn't really know. It can't really be hidden, and is sometimes bigger than life, or whatever it is.


Because I actually know it's your, take something from culture A, and try to get it to culture B, and make that an equivalent.


And you connect people, you bring them what they always thought they had inside the, I mean, it's just all that sort of magic that you do it really well. It's great magic. You do it really bad. It's really not permanent. So yeah, I love that the Wizard, you guys are doing so well with this. And last but not least, what's your nickname?


My nickname is Tigger, which I had been called by several members of my family as well, because if you know about Tigger Tigger, TINs that bounce into a situation very quickly to offer assistance and to support whatever the need happens to be and without hesitation. So that is the nickname that I've chosen for myself as well as family love it, you guys did an excellent job with this pivoting a little bit. You know, there's so many ways to look at this segment. I mean, people with disabilities.


It's so complex, and so, I'm curious, how do you define people or consumers with disabilities?


Is there anything that's different or unexpected today, Noah?


I mean, I think that's a great question, because I think that one of the things that just comes to mind right now is, I remember interviewing a patient who had hemophilia. He was talking about the idea that there are moments where he feels very able bodied and able to really do just about anything. And then we'll have a bleed and suddenly kinda be incapacitated by his condition. And that really got me thinking about the fluidity of disability, that it has different abilities, and that it really isn't a disability until there's something that you want to achieve, or a situation that you want to be in that you can participate in. So I think, for me, a lot of times, it's defined by what we're trying to learn, what we're thinking of population should look like. And then kind of making questions about that and see where there are opportunities to include more people that we might not initially beacons. Yeah.


So, to follow up on that, no visible versus non visible disabilities or challenges in your role, which is more challenging to advocate for or to serve, Tell me a little bit about that.


For me, yeah.


Who think that they're challenging in different ways. Right? Because the thing about an invisible disability is that, you know, it might not get recognized.


It may not even come out until the conversation going on, and I think that, you know, people who have invisible disabilities were not aware of them. As they start to manifest, they can be misinterpreted. And I see this happening all the time, especially if talk to people who have disabilities, that aren't very principle. And they describe, you know, being in situations where suddenly they can't do something, where their, their disability is manifested. And then people judge them or question were dismissed or even call the police in certain cases. With visible disabilities, the challenges that, you know, those people may be used to, people sharing than people, you know, assuming that they need help, that they don't actually need. Or, yeah. We're just being ignored is something as well, if people are not comfortable with that.


So, I think that, for me, they make some time in school.


Think, whether whether there's visible disabilities that I'm aware of, their could always be invisible disabilities that I'm not aware of, and that I won't find out until we get into the conversation to get into research.


So, I kind of assume that everybody has something and that it's good to kind of listen for what they're revealing to me and so that I can understand what it is exactly, and then learn from her.




Yeah, I was gonna say no, that a lot of times people spend their lifetime keeping their disability hidden, you know.


Might not be comfortable. revealing, they have Asperger's autism. Alright?


Can you hear me? Can you say that again here? You know, Because I want to hear.


OK, great, yeah, I'm sorry. Yeah, I was just saying that, you know, a lot of times, respondents will spend a lifetime hiding that disability from the, world because they want to be accepted and included that they're afraid might judge them. As humans, we find it easier to understand and empathize with those physical disability that we can see, that we noticed signals such as a missing limb, or a cane or a wheelchair and we open doors and offer to help others that we see are in need. But when those consumers with non vis a non visible disabilities like anxiety or ADHD, autism, they don't look any different from the outside, you know, compared to their able-bodied peers.


But the world expects the same from them, and also brands interact to know differently.


So, I think that's just an important consideration, and I really love the point that you may know us out, just walking into a situation, thinking that, you know, everybody has, has something.


Yeah, Too.


The suicide, until I started talking about my issues and depression and anxiety and everything else.


Once I opened up as a leader and as an officer in the Marine Corps, my Morain started telling me that they were going through stuff.


And as a leader, If you don't talk about your problems, you're not going to know your, your moraines or you know, civilians the same way.


If you're in a leadership role, you they have to relate to you. And when I went in and said, hey, I'm going through these struggles.


I'm going through these issues, and they opened up. And then people started sharing with me and that's where we came up with screen porch therapy, which is what we do out at the farm.


We talk about it and we, you know, solve the world's problems on a screen porch in Alabama, but there's not, there's not veteran, post-traumatic stress, and there's that veteran anxiety and veteran depression, or it's just depression, and like Noah said, expect everyone to have this.


It's not a weakness, and that's the stigma. And the Marine Corps, and the stigma in the military is if you talk about it, you're gonna get judged, and you're a weak military person.


It shouldn't be seen as a weakness unshipped, you're an adult.


If you're going through this normal adult that's going through struggle, because we all struggle, at some point in our life, and the other point about not no-one, I've had events where we had a triple amputee.


And he was present and then my father specifically said, Well, what's wrong with that guy? Why is he here just physically? You know visually he saw the gowanus and Lambs.


The guy pointed to was a Marine I deployed with.


And in our previous deployment, he had lost everyone in his team, and he was the only one who survived.


So though, he was affected physically, he was awake To hear every single person get blown up.


He smelled and heard everything that happened to his entire team, and he witnessed all.


So his post-traumatic stress and his nightmares he saw everything that happened. And I'd argue. He's more wounded.


Then the guy that's missing the lambs because that guy was blown out, but I know a specific story. He was unconscious when he got blown up.


So, though, physically and visually, he looked more injured.


The other guy, the trauma, was through the roof, and I had to take extra care with hilmes, so we have to be cautious before we say, well, why is that person involved in this? And Judge? now what is trauma? I can't judge Wendy's depression. I can't say, Well, it didn't sound like she went through a lot.


That's your struggle, that's your anxiety, that's your depression, and regardless of what caused it, I can't judge it or say that doesn't bother me, because it bothers you, and I know, I'm sorry, go for it.


That it's also compounded to non visible disabilities when it's a person of color, or an, a person of the LGBT community, where they're already have a sense of isolation and not being seen or not being heard, and then add on and compounded by a disability that is not visible.


So, again, appreciating what Noah was saying, well, and you as well lead about being able to come to the party, as I like to say, sometimes, it from a place of humility and understanding That we don't know, specifically, if it is not visible, someone is going through what their health crisis may be in that particular moment.


I mean, what an amazing, I think, tool or gift in terms of creating empathy to just acknowledge that everyone could have something.


I think it's also incredibly empowering, and I think, as a marketer, and a market researcher, it just makes me think, know, this is something that we can literally include in every brief when we think about the audiences that we want to connect with, just a really practical way.


I'm also curious, is there like a trend or a technology advancement or phenomenon that you found has been most influential or even disruptive when we think about your role today in connecting with people of various ability levels?


Well, I think that the digital worlds, so video, our phones, our watches, I mean past that.


That's all.


Technology has been awesome, but it's also been horrific technology, I think is really designed more for that. You know, for me.


And I'm a white male who's living in Southern California, who owns a home blob, you know, oh, that's right, so, that demographic on the outside books.


Really cool.


But, that technology is not really accessible for a third of the population.


And if we look at the world, it's really, you know, more than half of the population can and can't have access to the technology that we, we think, is so great. So it kind of piggyback onto the previous thing about what's visible or invisible. Instead, I'm thinking about somebody could, we should just always assume somebody does, period. They just do.


And so everything that we do should be with a focus of what can we do to make lives every one, because everyone has something better? And I don't know what we. I mean, technology is really great but it's so limited in its scope for accessibility to a lot of people that we have an over dependence upon it and it's not really effective because it's really a small little part of the world.


So how do we take that advancement and actually make it global, make it worldwide? Make it, make it statewide. I mean, just go anywhere.


And you can find people camping out in a coffee shop because they don't have internet at home, or you know, when, when I was in education working, I worked at a private, not for-profit Catholic University, where it was very expensive to go to college.


But they also had a lot of opportunity for people who are of diverse backgrounds.


And so I work in the field that is typically female. There's not a lot of male interpreters out there, There's not a lot of male interpreter educators out there, but there's also a lot of people who are not. The population itself is not.


There's a glass ceiling that a lot of Deaf people hit and a lot of people in my field hit and it's I mean I would considered human services.


So it's difficult to provide access to somebody with such already, know you could list a million things. So technology for me is one of those big things that it's, it's fabulous it's wonderful, I work in video all the time I work on the Jetsons videophones that came actually out of Deafness. It didn't come from hearing people. The reason that the, that you have FaceTime and things actually started as this little, tiny project and a company that I worked for, that AT&T, Verizon, everybody said no to.


Nobody's gonna want this, this isn't what people are going to want. And now in 20 20, then, that was not very long ago, maybe 18 years ago.


So, in 20 20 now, everybody wants it, but not everybody has access to it. And Wendy, Wendy, I have a question for you, because one of the things you mentioned in your introduction is there have been incredible insights in examining the workarounds that consumers with disabilities have come up with in, in your research. Is there an example, because as Todd was speaking about, so much technology being centered on one experience, I started thinking about, wow, is, they're interesting or compelling example. I mean, kind of like what, what Todd mentioned with video chat, where you've seen, you know, something amazing come out of a workaround that you observed.


Absolutely, I think voice assistant is another technology that was created with the blind, low vision population in mind. And that was a product that really helped to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the general population, incredibly along the lines of FaceTime. Like, who would think, you know? Why do I need to talk into my phone when I can just type into my phone? But it can create, increases the effectiveness of our lives on a daily basis.


So I think that there are a lot of tech advancements that start by talking with people with disabilities. You know, who are using those workarounds and are very dependent on technology. A lot of our respondents, they couldn't participate in research, because they can't leave their homes.


So now, the tech world has really opened up doors to talk to all kinds of different consumers at all, you know, disability level.


So I think it's just technology is that has really advanced our field away.


So I'm curious, are there any trends or phenomenons that you found have been influential or disruptive when you think about Health Equity or, you know, connecting with all types of consumers?


Well, a lot of the trends tend to, for example, if we speak about it from a consumer's perspective. And I was thinking about that throughout this conversation.


For example, cancer patients may, in fact, go through a series of things, depending on, for example, chemotherapy or chemotherapy and radiation or surgery, or those types of things from a consumer perspective.


And I've seen it grow in the last five years, which was fantastic, initially having that protect women or men will also get cancer, or breast cancers, or any types of cancers.


But just those camps, for example, now there's different types of styles that would make someone feel beautiful or, you know, prettier because they've lost all their hair or they're your weeds and there are different types of consumer items, products such as prosthetics and where an individual can't tell that someone has had some type of surgery where they've lost breast surgery or anything of that nature. So, it's really grown a lot and that's a trend that continues from things. Proceed precision medicine, for example, or medical devices that are very helpful with the non visible disabilities, for example, So, those are some of the trends that I'm seeing, and really happy to see that increasing, actually, in terms of consumer products and invention.


I'm also curious. For it. Yes. So, so, when tied, I'll be honest with you. I want to find a place where there's no technology or access because I want to go there for at least a minute and take a break. So, I do agree with you that it helps.


the positives is I can via webinar, be in a meeting or get an e-mail from somebody. I have no idea if they're missing lags.


I now have no idea what their background is, and they can be as intelligent as a one a day, and there's no judgement from my eyeballs, if I do have any bias.


So, I think, you know, with technology, it's great, because it's enabled, people who have limited mobility and other issues to reach out to the entire world and connect an impact.


I think it's also, you know, the anxiety piece.


It's made this world, where it's instant, gratification and response required.


And I know if, if, I don't respond to somebody's e-mail or text, and they're like, oh's mad at me, he hasn't responded in NaN, because there's a lot of good. There's a lot of bad.


But, the last thing, if we can figure out how to keep an eye. I've recently had to deal with kids committing suicide at 14 and 16 years old.


There's no safe place due to technology.


And I've got two girls here, that my Mom, that are at the lake, They'd been at the lake for the last day, and a half, and they'd been on their cell phones the whole time.


So why a child is seemingly in a safe place, in the confines of their own home, they're not, because they can be bullied from Lake Martin at the light cows, from anywhere in the world. And recently, a friend of mine, 14 year old guy, that he knows, 14 year old shot himself.


And I hear about these suicides every day because people are doing cyber bullying and reached out and in violating them in their own home and bullying them in their own safe place due to the accessibility.


So, one of the thing Stalin is trying to figure out how to limit that, how to prevent that.


But also how to get youth engaged in natural resources, how to get youth engaged in doing something besides getting on their cell phones and how to have them doing something besides staying on technology. So, there's a happy medium and we send a warning.


It, Warriors Heart and a couple other substance Abuse voices.


And there's something to be said when the first role is, you can't have a cell phone and they limit it to 30 minutes or an hour a day, and that's a part of dual diagnosis treatment.


Both anxiety, depression, suicidal, ideations, and substance abuse, Every clinic across the country takes your cell phone first, if that doesn't tell me just something.


So, you know, it's, it helps, it enables a lot of technology, and enables us to reach out to people literally across the world.


But there's also some, some evil in it. If we're not careful, too. So, we've got to figure out how to limit that. Still be successful with it.


Yeah, really?


Little piece we were saying about the equity as well is that when it comes to equity and equality, we have all these marvelous technologies that we're speaking about now for the consumer market. However, in the equity piece or a space of it, everyone does not have access to that.


They do not have the resources, other than the funds, that they don't have individuals to come into their communities, be it a real rural community. So, there are still a lot of barriers to overcome when it comes to health equity, and those are some of the biggest trends. And we did get that highlighted. We've seen that highlighted here: postcode.


Where are the struggle to get underserved, popular narrative populations and vulnerable populations into clinical trials?


And the clinical trial of, OK, we have the products of the vaccines pharmaceuticals are bringing out the vaccines, you know, for elderly and children and that type of thing. But that gap remains an equity where, but there's still not getting people of color are vulnerable populations in to the clinical trials for the very vaccines that may prevent, or you say, well, I'm coven.


So, again, that access is a very big piece and continues to do so when it comes to health equity.


Yeah? It definitely feels like access is this double edged sword, right? Depending on who you are, where you are.


And so, there are obviously things that we can do, too.


Increase accessibility, but then also sort of create some moderation for younger people, for other populations. I'm curious.


Know, one of the things that I love about each of you and your experiences is that you've had the opportunity to work with so many different organizations and so many different brands in many different contexts.


I'm curious, who do you think is doing it well outside of your current organization. Is there a print brand or a product that you find connects with consumers with disabilities in a masterful way, in your opinion?


I'll start on that one, just because I just had an experience talking to someone, and they were talking about, say the clothing company mean. Yeah, sure. It's called tomboy, and Exits, and LGBTQ founded Clothing Company. And they create, you know, cruel clothes. That, look great and, kind of behind the scenes or you have to go looking for it. If you don't know they have underwear for people with incontinence issues. So, I just thought that that was a really great example where everything is equally stylish but some of them are designed for a certain population. And I really liked that idea, because everyone shops there, and that includes people, you know? It's funny you say that, because I had learned about Tumblr X before, But as you were saying that I'm reminded of Skims, actually. I don't know how many people have heard of that brand, but it's Kim cardiac sheets.


Sort of underwear lingerie line. And, you know, they position it as underwear for everybody. And so, when they first came on the market, you know, they had a very wide range of skin tones or colors in terms of, you know, having underwear that matches your skin tone. And then obviously a very large size ranging from like extra extra small to like I think four X or something like that.


And one of the things that they recently introduced is adaptive underwear. So, you know, not things that everyone thinks about but really helpful for everyone like brause the open in the front. Just as we age, you know, underwear that opens on the sides student, you have to take all the way off.


And it's really interesting because as we age, you know, or even after having a baby, I can think about how masterful is that some of these conveniences are where, you know you can imagine the type of like maneuvering. People have to do to just get underwear on it even without a disability.


Oh, I'm so sorry to say that, you know, to not know. From a research perspective, I think that there's a real distinction between companies who really want to understand the populations that are out there, especially those with disabilities, and who actually invest in those conversations. And, you know, go out, talk to those people to foundational research, so that they can understand the difference. You know, that's a really interesting thing. Like, when you're working with a brand partner.


How do you really tell that they're invested? Or they really care about creating products that work for everyone.


I think it's immediately obvious, honestly, because if I raise the topic of, Well, are you thinking about this? And they say, No, then they're not there either open to it or not. I think a lot of clients will come with a question of mine. So, I think in a little humility goes a long way. Admitting that they don't know, population, that they're trying to target. Rather than just saying, Hey, we want to put this app at all. That's the spirit, not saying we want to put an ad out. We wanted to hit these this population. Can you tell us about that as people and tell us, you know, what's what's important to them and what their lives are?


Like, mm, hmm. We got an example jenelle, not from our brand standpoint, but from another non-profit standpoint, by Senior Mentors Lieutenant General James Laster.


It was the chief of staff for the Marine Corps and he's now the president and CEO for Marine Toys for Tots, and I did an internship with him as hours retiring from the Marine Corps.


And he sat in front of that staff and I briefed on all the wonderful things were, you know, they're doing for toys for Tots and all the less fortunate children that they were able to impact.


They had the map up, and they had 830 programs across the US.


And he said, That's amazing. I'm proud of everything our day one.


Where are we not helping your minds to look at the map? Look at the US.


Say where all the kids that do not get a Christmas, where are the most less fortunate children across the US?


Where are we not covering? That's where I want to be now. We've done the good adulation, but it was just a unique approach. And I think brands can do that too, or should do that.


Worst fall here, that's great, Kato's, Pat on the back, now, where are we not successful during market research? Where do we need to impact? And the general, that was his first approach, is, there's a kid out there that's not getting Christmas, there's a kid out there that doesn't have that experience. I want you to find that out. You've got three months gap.




Since he's been a CEO, the program has grown so much, and his impact, and so many more children.


So, it's very inspirational to see that approach from a three star general in the Marine Corps, and I was proud to be a part of it.


Yeah, no, that's amazing.


And I think just underscores, even what Noah was saying, about just asking the right questions or new questions and understanding who we could, we could better serve.


We'd love to talk about illuminating intersectional experiences, more so now, And I'm curious, what intersectional experiences, should we anticipate when we're thinking about people with disabilities? You know, is it Ability and age? Is it ability in class ability, and race? Ability, and gender? Give me a sense for the ones that you typically anticipate.


Anyone, I'm going to say, age is a major one. And that is because it cuts across all classes, races, and so forth.


And because we have an aging population that used optical here in the US, we call them Baby Boomers, for example. You know, and we're at the beginning of that to that.


And then, you know, we have also the technologies and innovations that we're speaking of that are allowing people to live longer with a disability or an illness. So we have that compound, it compound of age, as well as, perhaps from a veteran's perspective. You're missing a limb due to some event that occurred in your life, their experience, or cancer, or whatever that may be. You're still able to be here, excuse me, But also, how are you able to form.


So, I think that when we tend to, in years past, we would say, well, you're retiring at 65 and, you know, you get it used to be you'd get your. What does it Rolodex watching your pension? Rolex watch? You know, until I have one Rolodex, what? The i-phone launch.


An outright, but all that's gone.


OK, so, when we look at that, even with baby, boom, break from baby boomers to millennials. You know, millennials taught everyone, that we already know there is no pension at the end of the rainbow.


We know there's no, you know, special watch, or Social Security, and those types of things.


So, we have to, I think, age is the one that I would say, cuts across all the, the, the trends that we're picking up.


And then looking at this aging population, where you're having to perhaps work till you're 67, or 70 or 70 to 80, if you, if you're like, I mean, I know a couple of friends of mine whose fathers around the business. So they worked to lead to be dyed it would be 80 something years old. But that may not be the case for everyone. But you kinda get what I'm going to say.


To throw something else into the mix, When you add technology onto that aging demographic, there are a lot of systems and processes that are creating dependencies on, technology, to, get things done, such as, you know, thinking or shopping, or even seeing your, you know, your doctors, reports, and that sort of thing. So, a lot of the aging population is also relying on their children, or their caretakers caregivers to help them manage this whole process.


So, I think that's where that aging demographic impacts the technology industry, and just iterations to make, you know, as we're doing research for those populations, definitely agree with that. Just last night, I was trying to FaceTime my mother.


And, you know, it was the screen, state, black. And she kept saying, I'm trying to, I'm trying to find the button? Like, mom, we don't need the button many times. And, so, I had to hang up, so she could call me back and find the right face time. So, you're right. It is certainly that, that they have to deal with the confronting and facing the new technology in the aging population.


Biggest thing is the purpose and my dad's 93 years old, His nickname is Pine Cone.


And he's on the farm right now. Picking out time cards and cleaning up any weeds every day for 8 or 9 hours. regardless if you're not a three year old pine cone. Or if you're a veteran that's missing alejo.


Or whatever situation, or in a life, that purpose.


And that mental ability to push through.


whatever you're going through, and that one more audience, see, we'll get you through anything.


And my dad told me years ago, He didn't want to be here anymore, because they didn't have a purpose. And I gave them a purpose to grow, and through help, and veterans, and first responders.


And now every day, he has a purpose, he knows he needs to get the farm ready for veterans that are coming in, he has to do this, He has to do those various things.


So the purpose in waking up every day and having your feet hit the ground, and knowing that you have a reason to be here.


I think that changes a lot, regardless of your disability, regardless of your age, regardless of what you're going through.


Your mental ability to push through adversity, and to have resiliency, and to realize that you do belong. You do have a purpose, and you have a reason for being here.


We'll get you through anything you're going through, regardless if you're old, if you're missing a LAN, if you're deaf, that, that, that resiliency and that purpose will help you get through any obstacle obstacle. The way obstacles, in the way It is, the way.


It is so fascinating that you say that because I've recalled doing quite a bit of actually oncology research in the past.


Where one of the things that was really insightful for me is, you know, someone who's recently diagnosed with cancer and realizing some physical limitations that they now have, that they didn't have before.


They really know being immersed in a new culture, so to speak.


And, I don't think, until I did that research and had that perspective, I never thought of, you know, people with disabilities are people, with a certain type of ability, lamentation, having their own sort of culture.


And a number of things that they could share in common.


Like feeling isolation, isolated, or, you know, needing to, two, identify a new purpose, or a revised purpose.


I'm curious, when we, can we talk a little bit about culture and, and what perspective we can share with the audience, like, as you've taken the time to learn more about these different audiences and different ability levels?


What have you learned about culture that maybe no everyday person may not be aware of? Todd? Can you weigh in on that a little bit? Sure. While Deafness as a culture, people who are deaf with a big deal, and they're, Well, OK, so big enough. Let's say you had Deaf parents, Deaf grandparents, all your family members are deaf. You went to a deaf residential school. You went to Gallaudet University, the deputy. So you've lived your whole life as a deaf person.


So, you live in a group, that's everybody's deaf, You go to church, it's deaf, You go to your doctor, he's deaf, you see your lawyer, he's dampier. I mean, everybody, so your whole world is down. So that's a culture that a lot of hearing people don't know, even exists.


So, and part of that reason is because as as, as a child, when you're born, oftentimes children are born to parents who are hearing, so that percentage is huge. Maybe 90% of the population who is deaf were born into hearing families. So the one deaf child is the oddball out in, you know, family generation of all hearing people.


So, but hearing this is a culture, too.


I mean, we all live in multiple cultures, I mean, we just do have multiple cultures. But it's difficult to look at something that's not your culture because there's all kinds of societal things.


And disability is one of those things that we look at.


But just, I mean look at our screen here. We have a very diverse group of people. We all have our own cultural history, cultural backgrounds, where we came from. Yeah, we all have a lot of things that we that the world will look at us and say we're very able-bodied and function. And we design products for you, people, because you're the able-bodied ones. So, culture to me is really one of those.


You really have to know, and I mentioned that the has mentioned it.


You really have to listen and, And invite those who are not like you to the table, but the hard part about that is, is that when you invite them to the table, you, you make a little checklist that goes, Hey, I invite somebody to the table. And you check that little check mark. But then they never get to participate.


They never get to be an active member at the table. So, listening is a huge part of it, but then taking it to the next part.


And that has the, I mean, when you're talking about resiliency and purpose, and you just have to do listening and then doing whatever that cultural wants to do, You not, with judgement, as Lisa said, when somebody sends you an e-mail. It's just a bunch of words and you can read the words and there's no judgement on those words most of the time. Well, I mean, there can be, but you know what I mean? It's just a You don't have a pre-conceived notion.


You're just reading a script off a piece of paper, So don't bring to the table your expectations of what that culture is going to bring to you, because that culture is going to bring to you some incredibly fascinating, wonderful, diverse, illuminating. I mean, when I got adopted, I recall I yeah, I would say that have been adopted by the Deaf culture.


I'm not a deaf person. I don't have deafness in my family.


You know, I just started this career many years ago because people looked at me and saw something in me that said, You need to do this, They're the ones who decided I became an interpreter there though.


They're my gatekeepers there, one there, ones who invited me in and I think I got invited in so deeply into their culture because I just kept saying, OK, I trust you.


What's next, OK? let's do this, OK, teach me, help me, let me see, let me be a part of, and when that happens so successfully, I think that people forget that I'm hearing person in my deaf world of friends. They don't really, that's not, I'm not a hearing person to them. I'm part of their community.


Part of their one knows part of their culture, which is really cool for me. But how do we broaden that, too?


I grew up. I will, I mean, I'll talk about my own family. My parents, don't. They still think that? I do something with that brand. and help people who to read books or something, I mean, honestly, they just don't have much of a clue as to what it is that I do. And it's interesting how, no matter what, I say. no matter what. I, again, I think it's about the whole listening part. It's, there's a lot of words that gets spoken.


But how do you take that in so that you can really be part of whatever it is.


And when you can do that, know, the world is wonderful? Or utopian. But it can be wonderful. What does that, from, 2001, Is it something wonderful, Is about to happen. So, and it can be wonderful. But you really have to be able to be willing and open and interested and engaged.


And just all those things that seem so obvious, but it's very difficult to achieve.


Because the busy world, We have, we have a few minutes left. And so I want to ask two questions.


The first one if we could touch on it quickly and the second one, I think will be a little bit more interesting. But what said something earlier in the conversation about people with non visible disabilities and their actions, having the potential to be misinterpreted?


And it reminded me, you know, last summer, I read this headline that I was totally shocked by.


And it's stated that half of all people killed by police in the US have some sort of disability.


I was literally on the floor and then I started doing a little bit more research to it on it and and read and learn that when we add an intersectional lens to it, for instance, that black Americans with a disability. It's a little even scarier and more than half of them are arrested by the time they're 20 years old. So, black Americans with disabilities are more likely to be arrested and almost all arrested by the time in 20 years old, obviously depends on what kind of disability.


And, I'll be honest, I didn't know how to process this, thinking that people with disabilities are more likely to be arrested, or even killed, in places where they should be safe.


Um, you know, and I know safety is something that we've talked about a little bit, as well.


How should we think about race and ability intersecting?


How should we think about safety? How should we think about any of this?


I want a couple of you to weigh in before we go to our last question because it's interesting to think about, you know, converging identities and experiences and protecting the most vulnerable among us well, and indefinite. It's very similar to especially with police interactions and deafness is again, very high mortality and, or arrested and, or beaten.


And, or because honestly, when a deaf person gets pulled over and they say, Hand me your license and registration, which, you know, every deaf person knows that, but when you are deaf and you're reaching towards the glove compartment and the cop is yelling at you, which you can't hear, The cop assumes you're reaching for something.


That's not just your piece of paper, that's called the registration and things happen.


So, the whole thing about the safety aspect, or even, I don't know how to broaden it, but just remembering that because everyone is really different and because there are a lot of hidden sorts of things.


I'm not sure where it started that we assumed the worst.


Just assuming the best and I, I think the root of that for me is that a lot of times, the assumption is for the worse.


Like if you hire a deaf person, it's going to be, you're gonna make the company go bankrupt because you gotta hire an interpreter. Who costs $50 an hour to come in. To train this person for eight hours or Or the doctor's office that refuses to see a deaf person. Because they won't hire an interpreter. And so the Deaf person dies because they didn't get to see their doctor, because the doctor said, No, I'm not going to hire an interpreter.


I mean, there's just why do we assume the worse and mm, hm, can we flip the law to assume the best? I don't know. But I thought, I think our country's education system is, is pretty terrible.


Can we get a lack of education across the country? If you find a good education system, stay, there, don't move?


Lack of education and between the lack of solid policies.


And the main thing is technology has increased the ability for the media to spread hate and misinform going across. And it doesn't matter if you're a Democrat Republican. It doesn't matter what it is.


There's misinformation on all parts and you're getting the worst name because they want to create divisiveness with all of us. They want you to see me in Alabama being a white man. And immediately, you have your bias.


And in the media, they want you to be angry. They want you to, you know, pick a side with reverse way.


They want you to pick a side with police violence. Any of these things, they're going to trigger, something that you focus on.


So now, you're angry, Or we could just go out and do and help our community, but I mean, a lot of this stuff even in Tuskegee Alabama, which is where I live.


We have a drug issue. We have a theft issue. We have trash everywhere.


Then our focus is increase in small businesses. We gotta fix the root of the problem. First. We have to help educate chim, We have to help with a drug issues.


We have to help with the violence and the criminal acts or there's always going to be trash. So let's not focus on small business development.


Let's clean up the issues we have. And I know it's, it's a lot of the technology piece we discussed earlier.


That's creating this divisive world we live in and instead of getting informed ourselves, we look at fox, CNN, MSNBC, whatever your flavor is. And that's our education platform. That's the education. That's entertainment.


It's literally these people getting paid to say this stuff.


So, let's just stop and realize that, tie jenelle, Noah, y'all aren't bad people. I don't look at, you, know, anything about you, except are great people that spend an hour with me.


Everyone's good, but let's, let's put some money into education.


Let's put some money and educate ourselves the right way, and not pick an aside on something that, a lot of times, we don't even have a dog in the fight.


Yeah. I love that.


We have literally a few seconds left, and I'd love for us to quickly make like a list of do's and don'ts of things we should consider think about, do or not do when it comes to authentically connecting with people with disabilities. Already, I've collected a number of them that we've said in the course of the conversation. So don't bring your cultural experts expectations to the table. Try and understand mayors, withhold, judgement, non visible disabilities can be easily misinterpreted. Don't assume the worst. Assume everyone has some sort of ability challenge as sort of a starting place and do go out and help the community and don't move if you live in an area. With any other do's and don'ts you'd like to add to the list of or do you want to start.


Humility is a big one in any circumstance, visible or non visible disabilities, as well with culture. And while the other topic that we've spoken about. So, I'm going to say do the humility.


And don't assume OK, Wendi, you're up next.


Do invite consumers with disabilities to be part of the conversation? Include even a small group of consumers with disabilities to the table, to ideate and to innovate.


Love that, Noah, Dewar don't, I would say, do check for understanding.


You know, I think that a lot of times, I see people who think that they have a sense of what's going on, and that's, it's always a good idea to just make sure that what you're thinking and understand is actually what's going on.


Love that, Todd. Do you have a dewar don't for me?


Do listen with an open mind and an open heart.


And last but not least, we do or don't do a lot more of helping your community.


Being a good person, Having compassion love in your community, and do a lot less social media. And this world would be a better place.


I love that. Thank you so much for your time, your attention, sharing, your expertise, and perspective with us. This was another phenomenal conversation, and it would not have been that way without each one of you contributing to it. So thank you so much. And with that, Elen, I will pass it back to you.


Wow. I just really wanted to know and our amazing guest for today's really truly candid discussion and thank you everyone for sticking with us.


Be on the lookout for a direct link to today's recorded presentation, and in the meantime in at any time we welcome the opportunity to speak with you, so please reach out to us directly.


That now concludes today's webinar. Have a wonderful day, everyone. 

The author(s)
  • Janelle James SVP, Qualitative

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