This year, for the first time ever, OFN will feature open captioning and other accessibility tools to be more inclusive of Conference attendees with disabilities. In addition, four Ambassadors with Disabilities will receive full scholarships to participate in the Conference and create awareness around the economic experiences that disproportionally impact people with disabilities.

These welcome enhancements are made possible by a groundbreaking Conference Accessibility Initiative launched by the World Institute on Disability (WID) with support from JPMorgan Chase & Co. OFN is proud to be part of the initiative, which includes 10 of the largest community development and civil rights conferences in the U.S.—including the NAACP, National Fair Housing Alliance, and National Council of La Raza.

The goal for the OFN Conference is to be fully inclusive of people with disabilities to enable them to both attend and fully participate in conference sessions.

“We are so excited to be part of this Conference Accessibility Initiative,” said Tom Foley, WID’s Deputy Director. “There are civil rights and community development organizations doing some amazing work to help to create opportunity for low and moderate income communities. And we know—we absolutely know—that when we're talking about these communities, we are talking about people with disabilities.”

CDFI practitioners with disabilities are encouraged to apply immediately for the Disability Ambassador Scholarship. These ambassadors must be willing to represent the intersection of disability and economic inclusion, and engage in social media during the event. The scholarship covers the full cost of the Conference, in addition to travel and hotel accommodations, as well as disability accommodations.

Individuals from WID will host an onsite concierge desk at the Conference. Kat Zigmont, Global Initiative Assistant Director for WID says, “The concierge desk will be a resource for Conference attendees to both gain accessibility tools, and learn more about the importance of integrating a Conference like this for people with disabilities.” OFN is also working with WID to encourage presenters to take disabilities into consideration through a set of Disability Friendly Guidelines for Presenters.

“This is a multi-year initiative,” says Zigmont. “Our goal is to provide the tools to Conference organizers that will ultimately make creating disability accessibility an integrated part of the planning process, to move it toward full inclusion. From providing tools that help presenters make their sessions more inclusive through simple language cues, to understanding how a space can better accommodate people with disabilities, we expect to build on lessons from the first year as we plan for the future.”

If you, or a member of your organization, would like to become a disability ambassador, please contact Kat for more information at Ambassadors will be chosen by the end of September in order to ensure that travel is booked in a timely fashion.


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