by Regina Marie Brink
Discussions about “DEIA” are occurring all over our country right now. Some comments are positive, ambivalent, negative, or outright abhorrent. I believe part of the problem is that we all don’t agree on what it is. I am offering my opinion here as a starting point.
Once, my kids went fishing and brought home fresh fish for the first time. I seasoned it up and fixed it for dinner and they all claimed they loved it. Several days later, there was a bad smell in my house. I looked and cleaned. I invited my friend over to see if she could help. We couldn’t figure it out until I lifted one of the dining room chair cushions and there was the smelly fish the children had really hated. This is what I believe happens to problems we refuse to discuss.
“DEIA” stands for diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. I will examine each word in the acronym. Perhaps we can find places where we can agree.
Diversity is an opportunity. It provides an atmosphere where many voices are heard. Homogenous spaces mean that we simply will not hear people who are different from us. It might feel good if everyone is alike and believes, looks, talks basically the same, etc. However, if difference is considered “strange” and “alien,” how long until we are the one who is different? Diverse voices mean new ideas and ways to do something, and that can truly produce better outcomes. Those of us who have been employed as blind or low vision workers can attest to the value of diversity in this sense. It holds true for racial, ethnic, religious, and gender identity as well.
Equity is the golden rule. When we treat other people the way we would like to be treated, life is so much better, whether it’s at work, school, a service organization, or a recreational activity. Someone’s appearance or who they love, or their different abilities ought not cause them to be treated in a way we would not like to be treated. We can tell ourselves they deserve it for some reason. However, it’s not about that. Equity means we are true to ourselves and do not spread negativity or hatred through action or inaction.
Inclusion means all are recognized. No one likes to feel overlooked, invisible, unimportant, or irrelevant. People deliver their best when they are acknowledged, included, and valued.
Lastly, accessibility means we can all be on the same page. If some of us can read the page and some cannot even open the book, we cannot achieve a truly functional society. When we build accessibility at the beginning, everyone benefits.
In a follow-up to this article, I’d like to examine some ways to make sure these things happen within and outside of ACB. For now, let me know what you think. I welcome all voices, even those who disagree with mine. My email is [email protected].