Skillsoft Labs

Avoid FOMO with GAAD

May 19, 2021 | by by Danielle MacKnight Cross, Sr. Outsource Production Manager, Skillsoft

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” ― Stephen Hawking

I recently watched an interview with Marlee Matlin, academy award-winning actress and producer, who is also deaf, in anticipation of her latest film. One of her talking points that stood out for me was how the roles of people with disabilities are most often played by able-bodied actors--when in fact casting an actor that actually has a disability brings a certain authenticity to the screen that would otherwise be missing. Any person with a disability certainly comes through life with a unique lens as they have completely different experiences than the majority. And her film, “Feeling Through” will undoubtedly reveal to us that particular quality Matlin is referring to.

This idea of “missing out” on what an impaired person’s perspective portrays really resonated with me. It made me realize that Global Accessibility is not simply an issue of equal rights. It reveals that without Global Accessibility, the rest of the world will be missing out on the distinctive perceptions and creativity that comes from the knowledge and experience of people with a disability—which can enrich our lives in a way we would otherwise never by privy to.

Perfect example: I have a friend—a clinical sociologist—who was diagnosed with ALS 5 years ago; a disease that robbed her of her ability to speak and forced her to abandon her challenging but fulfilling private practice of providing therapy to help people adapt to their life circumstances. Thankfully, eye gaze technology now enables her to communicate with her family. Additionally, she was recently approached to also use this eye gaze system to provide therapy to an ALS support group. At a time when she feels most helpless, this technology will make it possible for her to use her skills as a therapist.

While this is encouraging, a disability or impairment prevents too many people from utilizing the technologies most of us take for granted. More than a billion people are affected by a disability and are underserved by today’s digital products. Global Accessibility Awareness Day gets us thinking about digital access for people with disabilities so that they aren’t missing out on all that technology has to offer; but it’s also about the rest of the world not missing out on what they have to offer. It’s a mistake to underestimate the value of accessibility. As we advance our technologies, let’s evolve our approach to be one of inclusion. Let Global Accessibility be a way of life.

To drive awareness for building inclusive technology and digital accessibility, Skillsoft’s virtual book club, OFF THE SHELF is featuring 5 titles + discussion questions in recognition of Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

Check out Skillsoft’s virtual book club OFF THE SHELF! Virtual book clubs allow and encourage people with similar interests to share and gain different perspectives in an effort to promote learning and engagement. Skillsoft’s OFF THE SHELF isn’t a typical book club… it’s a great benefit for employees and the entire organization. Designed for business professionals, OFF THE SHELF gives readers access to ebooks, audiobooks, and book summary content to enrich the learning experience.