Expanding the Target Population for Able, Active, and Adaptive 2019
By Peyton Sanders
The inaugural Able, Active, and Adaptive Climate and Diversity Conference, held in the spring of 2018, was a great success! The conference brought together community members and students from all over the Bryan/College Station area to celebrate differences and educate attendees about adaptive practices for the target population, individuals with physical disabilities. While emphasizing inclusion, the event offered ways to improve health, accessibility, and overall quality of life for individuals with physical disabilities. There were also adapted sports that attendees could try, such as wheelchair basketball, beep baseball, and sitting volleyball. These sports are popular among individuals with disabilities, but others may not ever have the opportunity to try out these unique activities. The Able, Active, and Adaptive conference’s adapted activities and informative sessions helped two very different populations, individuals with and individuals without disabilities, connect and appreciate one another in a fun, relaxed setting.
The inaugural conference focused only on populations with physical disabilities, but the 2019 conference team is expanding its target segment to include all forms of disabilities- physical, intellectual, and emotional. Because of this target population expansion, the team is looking to draw in an even wider variety of organizations, speakers, and activities to connect with more of the population. While the upcoming conference will still have sessions on adaptive practices for physical disabilities, the topics will now also include a focus on inclusion and accessibility for intellectual and emotional disabilities as well. Every person and every disability is extremely different, so a main focus of this year’s conference will be to use inclusive language to embrace all levels of ability. The Able, Active, and Adaptive team challenges themselves to create not only an accessible event, but also fully accessible digital content for the audiences with hearing or sight impairments. By using specific fonts, colors, and text sizes, website and social media content can be read with a text reader. At the conference, braille versions of program books and sign language interpreters will be provided.
The disabled community has typically been a marginalized group because of lack of accessibility and adaptation in every day life. By tailoring the conference experience to accommodate individuals with disabilities, all community members are able to see examples of how to make their own groups, organizations, and businesses accessible to all. It is also important to remember that individuals should not be generalized by their demographics, so individual adaptations may be made in certain circumstances.
Although the overall purpose of the conference is to promote inclusion for individuals with disabilities, everyone can benefit from this conference. The goal is for everyone to feel accepted, as well as teach others in the community how to be inclusive. It is amazing how adjusting a few terms of speech or participating in an inclusive, adapted activity opens up the mind to a whole new population of people. The Able, Active, and Adaptive team prides itself on bringing individuals of all ability levels together to learn and grow with each other.