Last week I had the pleasure of speaking to the annual conference of the Governor’s Council on People with Disabilities in the state of Indiana. More than 400 people had gathered, both people with disabilities and advocates, for a 2-day conference. The theme was Celebrating Community. More than two decades ago I had done quite a bit of speaking and consulting with those involved in the disability community, as indeed they were deep into the movement to shift the way society dealt with the disabled toward community integration. This has been quite successful in the past 20 years, though more progress is needed.
In preparing for this event I was interested to learn that the disabled have suffered during the economic recession of the past three years, in cutbacks to social programs that serve them, and even more so in terms of employment. While the national unemployment rates hovers at 8.6%, among the disabled the rate is more than twice that high. We considered the need to address this issue and we explored advances in technology that enable the disabled to be both more employable and independent. This includes access to social media. Because of social media younger disabled people (under age 30) are much more likely to be integrated with and interact with non-disabled peers, as compared to those over the age of 30. So this is another area that social media and the power of the Web are combining to change social structures.
One of the attendees, the Borshoff Agency, captured the spirit of the event in their blog. They noted in particular the use of multiple methods of communication, including the typing of closed captions by a stenographer live as I delivered my keynote. This is something we intend to explore further here at Futurist.com, for example the adding of close captions to our videos.
Glen Hiemstra is a futurist, author, speaker, consultant, and Founder of Futurist.com. To arrange for a speech, workshop or consultation contact Futurist.com.