Wednesday, October 14, 2015

It's about me.

Disability might be a "private issue" as one of our Wheelchaired For A Day participants have said, but I won't stop talking about. It might not have any actual impact on a business'  bottom line to exclude wheelchair users, but I will continue to report on it. Besides, individuals with disabilities might not be a strong and attractive consumer base or a group attractive to cater to, but just give us twenty years. The disability population is growing, the nation is aging and mobility issues concern more and more families. My point has always been that people should care more. Even if it's not something that has a strong economic impact today, notice, understand, pay attention. That's why I started a nonprofit. But here's where the problem lies: What's obvious to me may not be as clear to other people. I must say that my Creative Director has struggled quite a bit to understand how our lofty ideas translate into real world programs and solutions. What is our focus? What is the one thing that we are about that best illustrates the mission. We can't keep getting pulled in five different directions at once. What is it really about and why is that important?  Why should the real world care And why I think we are best equipped to do something about it? This past week I spent on passionate debates with my Board Members with disability at its core. We were operating on a number of assumptions. We assume for example that the reason individuals with disability don't go out on their own into the world and socialize is because they don't have access, opportunities or information. I know that was true with me, but how do we know if it's not a choice for many? I could say obvious things are obvious- but I think having some solid data that looks into disability behavior can only strengthen our case. Those are some tough questions, but questions any marketer would ask me and questions I would like to have answers to. I could say - it's about me- the things I struggled with and my take on what's wrong with the world for people like me pushed FDAAF into creation- because I, because we wanted to do something about it. And then the real world kicks in. On Sunday, the Gainesville Sun published my column. I don't think I intended for it to read like a manifesto, but it could have easily be pulled out of FDAAF's mission statement. This was just about something that happened to me on a weekend. How I wanted to get somewhere and I didn't have something. "What a great illustration for your cause"- one of the emails that followed complimented and it got me to think about how all the things that we try to do at the Foundation connect and counter some of bad experiences in my life that have a disability undertones. In that sense, it's still about me, my disability and my viewpoint, because I established it to react to a host of problems I was familiar with in a way that I saw and framed the issue. I'm also currently the only person on the Board with severe mobility issues, and that does two things. It may set a direction for our vision, but also makes it difficult for others to relate to.

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