Carmen Jones was recently hired to serve as education director for Abilities Expo; she also is president of the SolutionsGroup, a consulting firm that helps companies market programs to the disability industry. asked her what she plans to bring to the table, and what other medical meetings can learn from the Abilities Expo model.
MM: What made this job sound appealing to you?
Jones: As a consumer with a disability [Jones has been a paraplegic since her junior year in college], the parent of a child who has special needs, and someone who has worked with companies that want to understand how to target their marketing for people with various disabilities, I wear a few different hats. In addition to providing medical education to healthcare professionals and educators, part of what attracted me to the Abilities Expo was the opportunity to give people with disabilities information that will help them in their daily lives. The medical aspect in many cases is a small part of the life of someone who has a disability. We want to equip and empower people by giving them information they can use to improve their everyday lives.
MM: Would you like to see a more inclusive approach to other medical meetings as well?
Jones: Within the wide spectrum of people with disabilities, there definitely is a segment that wants the most current medical information. It might be advantageous if these people were allowed to attend medical meetings. It may be a paradigm shift for many professional medical meetings to have these people involved, though. I'd say just include people with disabilities in your programs. I know it's not that simple, but ask them to participate in panel discussions, give them a place to share their perspectives. I think it's important for healthcare professionals to see people with disabilities not just in medical terms, but in terms of how treatments actually benefit and impact people.
For more on accessibility lessons learned from the Abilities Expo team, see “Beyond ADA,” page 42.