Giving Compass' Take:

• Here are 10 ways for philanthropy to acknowledge the challenges of the disabled community and how to make inclusion in the sector a priority. 

• How can you take steps to center disability-inclusion in your philanthropy? 

• Learn more on how to implement disability inclusion methods in grantmaking. 

The nonprofit RespectAbility is on the front lines of the media and policy war to protect people with disabilities during the pandemic and related economic crisis. In a PEAK webinar, now available on demand, RespectAbility CEO Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi spoke to the many challenges that disabled Americans face in this pandemic.

Case in point: Eleven million people with disabilities rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), but only four states had policies in place covering food delivery. Thanks to the efforts of disability advocacy groups, including RespectAbility, 90 percent of SNAP households are now able to access food safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their advocacy work for people with disabilities extends to philanthropy as well. According to Mizrahi, there is much left to do to ensure that grantmakers are communicating in ways that are welcoming, respectful, and inclusive. “Video captioning is my litmus test,” says Mizrahi. “YouTube offers it instantly and for free, so if a group isn’t offering captions on their videos, they lack intentionality around equity.”

As Mizrahi points out, there’s no excuse not to make accessibility an imperative. “You don’t need to be a big and well-funded foundation to make the changes needed. Most of them can be done for little or no money,” she says. “If your foundation wants to offer transparency, accessibility, equity and accountability,” it’s just a matter of education and effort.

  1. Commit publicly to the inclusion of people with disabilities.
  2. Ensure that people with disabilities are included in decision-making positions, and not just for issues related to them.
  3. Foster an inclusive environment with your language and practices.
  4. Establish an inclusion point person or committee.
  5. Include people with disabilities in your marketing.
  6. Make your website, online resources, and social media accessible.
  7. Ensure the accessibility of your office and events.
  8. Include disability in diversity data, and ask your grantees to do the same.
  9. Promote a disability lens among grantees and partners.
  10. Do a little research.

Read the full article about inclusive philanthropy by Betsy Reid at PEAK Grantmaking.