Headlining Reasons to Think Ability First

An image of a marquee with the word "Awesome" in lights.

Last Friday morning, at the Ability First's Champion Awards breakfast, I was in the company of enlightened people.

That might be a strong statement. However, in the midst of a still-high unemployment rate for all people and a particularly high one for persons with disabilities, looking beyond disability in the hiring process is something to be applauded.

These employers not only hire for ability first, but put accessibility at the cornerstone of their business practices. To see a room full of people dedicated to such a cause was incredibly heartening.

This comes on the heels of my recent reading of an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Accessibility Claims Expected over Websites." Its premise was that in light of compliance standards for accessibility laid out by the Justice Department, small businesses could expect lawsuits should their websites be inaccessible.

As someone who believes that education is better than lawsuits in most circumstances, this article enraged me. It was sending the wrong message: not "accessible websites are better" but "Woe to you with an inaccessible site. The hammer of the law will crush you." Judging by the comments on the article, the sentiment wasn't winning hearts and minds to make websites more universally useful.

I decided to take lessons learned from last Friday's festivities and write my own headlines that I'd hope the WSJ and others will pick up on and discuss at length.

  • "Hiring persons with disabilities raises annual profits"
  • "Companies with accessible websites set the standard for the future; reap benefits in customer retention"
  • "Persons with disabilities seen as customers and employees, everyone benefits"

So I might not be a great writer of headlines, but the sentiment is true: hiring persons with disabilities as well as running your operation so all can use it pays big. The 2014 Champions Awards winners and nominees all know that; it's high time the Wall Street Journal got on board.

Questions Answered

Why should I hire people with disabilities?



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