By: Kelsey Hogan, President/CEO of Yellow Rose Consulting
My Grandmother, Peggy Childs, taught at the Texas School for the Deaf in Austin, Texas for over 25 years; she personally made it her mission to assist those with disabilities learn and thrive. At her memorial service, I remember many of her students and co-workers showing up and having conversations with me using American Sign Language (ASL), telling me how my grandmother changed or affected their lives. She was one of my heroes and someone that taught me the importance of inclusion and equality for everyone.
She raised 4 boys, 3 of whom – my uncles and father – had hearing and/or vision impairments that affected their growth and learning. My father personally struggled with vision issues that were left undiagnosed until he had reached third grade. Due to his delayed diagnosis, he had created his own alphabet for writing and had to relearn how to read and write the correct way after he received auxiliary aids to assist him.
In the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s, most assistance for those with disabilities had to be fought for and obtained through difficult means; unlike the current mentality and environment that focuses on assisting those that need aids to obtain the same level of accessibility as their peers.
She taught her students prior to the passing of the 1990’s Americans With Disabilities Act ADA law, which put into place many of the basic conveniences that are taken for granted by the non-disabled; however, she always held the same views as the basis of the 1990’s ADA law was founded on and championed assisting those with tools so that they could succeed on their own merits.
The company that my father and I started, Yellow Rose Consulting, wants to continue the legacy of my grandmother and carry her vision into this modern age. We want to ensure that alternative methods of communication are common practices and that they are adopted by businesses so that their targeted audience can be reached; teaching them and educating them on the importance of auxiliary aids, to conquer barriers to effective communication.
In this modern age, there is a growing need for auxiliary aids due to an expansion into more virtual environments – virtual classrooms, virtual workspaces – this past year has shown that this has become a growing trend. As we move into 2021, the need for alternative methods of communication has increased, which shows us that the first steps need to be taken in assisting those with disabilities.
We should be pursuing ways to assist those with disabilities obtain a similar or comparable way to access the same information as those without disabilities – documents that are posted to websites do not always provide this. Tools such as text-to-speech have become increasingly popular, but most documents that are publicly accessible are not compatible with these programs. Accessibility should be budgeted for and included for any website; Yellow Rose Consulting provides services to alter the documents on your website to be compatible with auxiliary aids.