Disability advocacy is more involved in access to athletics than you might imagine. You’ve probably heard of organizations like the Special Olympics and the Paralympic Games, but accessible athletics is more than just competitive events. Justin Moore, the CEO of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), is part of a widespread fitness initiative for people with disabilities.
Justin works with the disability communities and brings them together by using his two greatest skills: physical therapy and advocacy. As the CEO of APTA, he not only connects people with disabilities to the benefits of physical therapy practices, but he is also an advocate in and lobbies to make an impact in the accessibility space.
We had the pleasure of discussing all of this and more with Justin in one of our accessiBe Spotlight Sessions.
Here are some key takeaways from his interview:
1. Empowerment comes from partnerships
“We’re a hands-on profession and we’re really about partnering with a patient to better understand what their goals are and then empowering them to meet those goals.”
Being hands-on means having direct conversations and helping people meet their goals. Humans are social creatures, hardwired to care about one another. Justin is a great example of someone who uses his skillset to promote inclusion at both the government level and in his professional life.
2. Access is about opportunities
“With access, I think about three other A’s: affordability, availability, and appropriateness. If people truly have access they will have the services they need, where they need them, and when they need them.”
Accessibility must be affordable to people with disabilities and appropriate services and products have to be available or else policies don’t help the people who need it most. We need to tackle limitations like finances and other resources and come up with out-of-the-box solutions for accessibility that works for everyone. A good place to start is by listening to the needs and goals of the disability communities, and the people who advocate for them, so that can we can discuss different ways to find these solutions as partners who have a better understanding of them.
3. Access is also about lending a hand
“Access just means the doors are open, and to me, access has got to be greater than that. You have to not only have an open door, but you also have to figure out how to get people through that door, and a lot of other different skills of having the right services at the right time for the right person.”
By lending a hand and dedicating our time to serving the greater good, we can create an accessible society that shows just how impactful acting on inclusion can really be. According to Justin, we don’t need to just have an open door but actually push people through that door; together, as a team, we can build an accessible society by harnessing the skills we have to support all communities.
4. People with disabilities have the power to change policy
“I wish people in the disability community continue to understand the power of their voice and their story because there are policymakers and organizations like the APTA who want to partner to help you achieve those objectives. ”
People with disabilities have proven to the world that their impact on policy and legislation is not to be underestimated. By speaking up and making their voices heard, plenty of organizations that want to do more than just open doors to access are ready to partner up and fight for the type of accessibility that fosters inclusion. Organizations and advocates who lobby for access are more powerful than ever, and that’s due to the tireless efforts of the people who won’t settle for an inaccessible world.
5. Increasing accessibility takes time and endurance
“I think the biggest gap is looking for a quick fix. I think this is sustained work, all important work is. And I think at times you have to be patient and make incremental changes because there’s a stick-to-it-ness that has to happen in this area.”
Rome wasn’t built in a day! A fully accessible reality is no different. The ins and outs of access are detailed and complex, and we need to consider every aspect of life to create a fully inclusive society. We can start with educating the greater public on the disability communities, as well as improving technologies and infrastructure that make our world more inclusive.
Our discussion with Justin made us realize just how important it is to do something you love and believe in, and also work towards a goal for the greater good that benefits others. If you’d like to watch more Spotlight Sessions, you can find them all here.
If you are a disability advocate or have a nonprofit organization and want to share your story with the world, reach out to accessiBe’s Nonprofit Partnership Program so we can get to know you better.