By guest author Sandy Murillo
Sandy Murillo is a Development Assistant and Associate Producer at The Chicago Lighthouse. She received a degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in 2012. As a person who is totally blind, Sandy has a special interest in the media’s portrayal of people with disabilities, and places a significant emphasis on educating the public on the topic of vision loss.
Many things come to mind when we hear or say the words ‘access’ and ‘inclusion.’ Take a look in the dictionary, and you will see several definitions for each word. As someone who is blind, I believe access and inclusion go hand in hand. If we as individuals with disabilities are provided with equal and meaningful access, this can and will lead to inclusion.
I can think of countless times when I had access to important things and opportunities. Not being able to see often means that I have to take different approaches to partaking in everyday activities, and this is where having access is critical. Providing equal access for people with vision loss can be as simple as having unobstructed walkways in a building so we can move around without getting hurt. It can also mean having Braille signs on elevators or ATMs and kiosks with audible capabilities, so that people who are blind can use them without needing assistance from their sighted counterparts.
Society at large, which encompasses all of us, is key in providing access for people with disabilities. Many times, individuals have gone out of their way to make sure something is accessible for me, and examples abound. These include the instance when a bank employee kindly took the time to show me how the ATM with audio technology works, and when a college professor approached me at the beginning of the semester asking “what can I do to help?”
Every time someone makes an effort to get to know me and accommodate my needs, I feel incredibly welcome and included.
For me, access and inclusion go hand in hand when it comes to disabilities. Thanks to the many opportunities and efforts from other individuals, I have been afforded equal and meaningful access. As a result, I have been able to enjoy and partake in many of the same experiences as those without disabilities. Going to college and having a job I enjoy are just a few of the things that I could accomplish simply because I was given access to these opportunities. As a result, I have felt welcome, and even included in everyday life.
Let’s all work to make access and inclusion the norm for people with disabilities!
Support access and inclusion by visiting the Lighthouses on The Mag Mile public art display now through August 11! After exploring the artwork, ask yourself what you can do to open doors for people with disabilities. Be a Beacon!