Today, around one million people in the US live with severe disabilities, and another 2 million have functional limitations. However, only a meager 35 percent of adults of working age with disabilities are employed.
Many people with disabilities have inspiring stories to share, are highly adept public speakers, and can connect with specific audiences in a way a non-disabled speaker may not.
Read on for guidelines on hiring a motivational disability speaker for your next event.
Overcoming Audience Perceptions
Event organizers need to work hard to educate themselves. They need to learn about the mental barriers speakers with disabilities must overcome. And we’re not talking about the speaker’s own barriers.
Instead, we’re referring to the preconceptions the audience (and even the event organizers) have of disability speakers. For example, there are all kinds of erroneous judgments of people with a confirmed, legitimate social security disability. But they will readily listen to a Paralympian speak on stage and find their story inspiring.
Is the Venue Accessible?
Across America, cities, companies, and institutions work hard to ensure their buildings, campuses, and streets, and public facilities are accessible for people with disabilities.
Of course, much more can be done in this sector. And event organizers who are interested in hiring disability speakers need to do their part, too.
Some areas event organizers need to pay attention to include:
- Create an accessible access or event guide
- Offer accessibility training to event and venue staff
- Ask attendees if they have accessibility needs
- Ensure the venue complies with ADA regulations
- Create accessible venue signage
- Have water bowls available for assistance animals
- Offer accessible transport options to and from the venue
In fact, event planners should consider these points whether hiring a disability speaker or not!
Hire for Expertise
Just as with non-disabled public speakers, disabled public speakers specialize in a wide range of areas. Some people are experts in a particular field, such as sales, media coaching, or leadership. Others may come from a professional sports coaching background or work in environmental activism.
Do your research, talk to hiring agencies and get their advice, and find the right person for the type of event you’re planning to host.
Treat People Equally
There are all kinds of people in this world with a wide array of challenges. It’s just that for some people, their challenges are more visible than others.
Instead of hiring a speaker purely because they have a long-term disability, hire that person because they bring a different perspective to a subject or offer new insight into challenges that your team or audience may not have thought of or experienced before.
And, of course, because they’re a talented public speaker!
Stories About Thriving With Disability
Many people do not let their disability hold them back. Quite far from it.
Their disability defines them positively. It pushes them toward greatness that few–disabled or non-disabled–will achieve.
From Paralympians to professional athletes, scientists to authors, a motivational disability speaker is sure to inspire any audience.
For more event planning tips and tricks, browse the other articles on website.