Our Founder's Story
People with disabilities are the largest and most inclusive minority group in the world. Almost 1 in 4 people has a disability and we are all just one unexpected event or a long life away from being a member of this group. Despite this, we create environments with barriers built into them.
I founded Accessible Community after developing chemical sensitivity during pregnancy. There is no existing solution to help me safely go to new places. My family has to prescreen stores, restaurants and bathrooms for me. I have to skip getting on elevators when someone is wearing perfume. I have moved to a job that allows me to work from home in order to control my exposure to cleaning solutions and other chemicals. While I have worked in the accessibility field for decades, experiencing these barriers has dramatically changed my life and my perception of the world we create.
When I first was diagnosed, I mentioned to a handyman that I had chemical sensitivity. “Oh, my mother has that.” he said. “She doesn't go anywhere anymore.” Several years later, I more fully understand why.
We often discuss the need for ramps in physical spaces, captions for multimedia, and screen reader support in digital content. We don't often discuss the need for seating to support people with low stamina, reduced chemicals for people with chemical sensitivities, menus listing alcohol and other ingredients for people sensitive to them, or the ability to turn off animations or moving audio to support people with vestibular disorders.
I realized we needed a more holistic approach to accessibility that addresses a wider range of disabilities and helps organizations in our communities be more inclusive. We also need a safe way for people with disabilities to share their recommendations. I have a fantastic hairdresser, for example, who has learned how to work around my disability. If you have chemical sensitivity and live near me, I could recommend her. I'd love to hear recommendations on where I can safely shop for clothing. There is not a space online to make these recommendations or help organizations understand what they need to do to be accessible - so we are building one.