4 Key Takeaways from the Perspective of a Professional, Disabled, Latinx Woman
Improving accessibility in the workplace was at the forefront our recent event, honoring both National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Latinx Heritage Month
At BCG Digital Ventures, we are committed to cultivating an inclusive, equitable working environment for all. As we celebrate both National Disability Employment Awareness Month and Latinx Heritage Month, we are beyond excited to welcome Catarina Rivera, DEI Consultant, Disability Public Speaker, and founder of Blindish Latina, a platform smashing disability stigmas through storytelling, advocacy, and training, as a guest speaker at Digital Ventures.
Here are some key takeaways from the event, which we can apply in the workplace — as well as our daily lives — to build equity and increase accessibility for all.
1. Always ensure closed captions are enabled during Zoom meetings:
As we work remotely, it’s crucial that the platforms we use are accessible to everyone. Although it may not be intentional, forgetting to use closed captions during a Zoom or Microsoft TEAMs meeting sends a message (and assumption) that all attendees are able to hear the presentation. In addition to closed captions, Catarina also encourages utilizing the “chat” and “hand-raise” feature as much as possible so that everyone can be involved in the conversation and have a turn to speak.
2. True inclusivity requires attention to all types of intersectionality:
Coined in 1989 by scholar and writer Kimberlé Crenshaw, intersectionality is the interconnected nature of social categorizations, such as race, class, and gender, as they apply to an individual or a group, creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.
Catarina highlights the importance of recognizing intersectional identities within the communities you’re advocating for. “Ignoring certain forms of intersectionality can mean that any progress you make for the group, might actually leave people behind and perpetuate the very inequities that you’re trying to address,” said Catarina.
3. Remember that words matter:
Be mindful of the language you choose. As Catarina points out, “just because someone has a disability and gets up every morning and lives their life, that should not make them ‘inspiring.’ You should use it [the word inspiring] in the same way you would use it for a non-disabled person.” She also shares that saying the word, “disabled” is neutral, not negative, while “able-bodied” is not inclusive because not all disabilities are of the body, (i.e. blindness, deafness, and mental disabilities as well).
4. How companies can improve Disability Inclusion:
Catarina highlights that according to COQUAL’s Disabilities and Inclusion Report, 30% of college-educated people in the workforce ages 21–65 are disabled, but only 21% actually disclose their disability to Human Resources.
Whether you’re middle-management, just starting at a company, or in the C-suite, there are many ways to make impactful changes towards building a more equitable and inclusive working environment. For example, it’s important to ask employees what their access needs are before organizing an event; to utilize closed captions both internally and externally when possible; to acknowledge and unlearn ableist language; to be mindful about color contrast so that people can easily see presentations and displays; and to provide information in multiple formats.
Additionally, she advises creating accessibility guidelines, ensuring disabled people are accurately represented within leadership teams and throughout the organization, as well as investing financially in inclusion and accessibility practices.
For more about Catarina, follow her journey @blindishlatina on Instagram and TikTok.
Interested in joining BCGDV? See our current vacancies.
Want to find out more? Start the conversation with BCGDV.