5 Groups Providing Inclusive Experiences For Those With Disabilities
For individuals living with a disability, it can be challenging to participate in certain activities or even perform basic tasks. Fortunately, there are many groups dedicated to empowering people of all ages and abilities. In no particular order, here are some organizations working to make the world a more inclusive place.
First up, at #1, we have Let's Loop Seattle, a public education and access advocacy initiative launched by the Hearing Loss Association of Washington. The group provides information and resources about hearing loops, which are assistive listening systems that can be used to send signals into someone's cochlear implant.
“The hearing loop movement is exciting because people with hearing loss, who have long been underserved and left out of disability planning, can now fully participate in many activities as others do,” says Cheri Perazzoli, Founder/Director of Let’s Loop Seattle and Director of Advocacy for the Hearing Loss Association of America, Washington State.
The organization is run by volunteer advocates, and it aims to make the Puget Sound area one of the most hearing-accessible places in the United States. Among the group's resources is a list of looped venues in Washington, as well as articles on how to make events more hearing-friendly and accessible, including a guide on communicating via computer-assisted real-time translation.
Taking the #2 spot is Art-Reach. Founded in 1986, the group is dedicated to increasing cultural participation among underrepresented audiences in both the disability and low-income sectors. Among its offerings is the ACCESS Card, which allows holders to visit participating sites at a significantly discounted rate.
Art-Reach also partners with a network of human service agencies in order to connect people to a wide range of affordable cultural experiences throughout Greater Philadelphia. Its ENCORE program provides various activities customized to its members' needs, including artist-led workshops and audio-described tours of exhibitions.
Next up, at #3, we have the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, which seeks to provide life-changing experiences to those who are often excluded from outdoor activities due to a disability or special need. Each year, it offers various recreation programs for individuals and groups, including adaptive skiing and snowboarding lessons.
The organization's Wilderness Program serves those with physical and cognitive limitations who want to enjoy the experience of outdoor activities, such as hiking, canoeing, cycling, and camping. Its Keystone Adaptive Center also hosts events for veterans in both winter and summer; these are designed to help participants with the recovery and healing process.
Coming in at #4 is the Magical Bridge Foundation, which advocates for and builds inclusive outdoor spaces that welcome people of all ages and abilities. The organization's playgrounds are designed to have distinct zones and features, including interactive art pieces and a community treehouse and stage.
The group's Kindness Ambassador Program trains young volunteers to encourage compassionate behavior on and off the playground. Magical Bridge, in partnership with Changing Perspectives, a nonprofit that offers disability awareness programming, also provides parents and caregivers with resources and activities that aim to promote empathy and inclusion.
Finally, at #5, we have Special Olympics Northern California, which provides year-round training and athletic competition in a variety of sports for both children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The organization also offers free health screenings and education through various programs, such as Strong Minds, an interactive learning activity focused on developing one's adaptive coping skills.
Its Schools Partnership Program unifies individuals with and without disabilities through sports and other activities that provide participants with the skills they need to develop inclusive and respectful communities. The organization also hosts various fundraising and special events throughout the region each year.