Making Earth Day Accessible

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Clouds, sky background. Image of Earth with icon people with disabilities and trees moving. Text: Accessible Earth Month. Meeting the needs of today without depleting the resources of tomorrow.
Accessible Earth means “meeting the needs of today without depleting the resources of tomorrow.”

April 22nd is Earth Day, a unifying gathering that brings together all walks of life to celebrate our planet, activate change, and work together to build an abundant future. Let’s work together to make the future more inclusive for people with disabilities.

In 1987, the United Nations defined “development with sustainability” as something that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Image of Earth as a light bulb with icon people with disabilities and trees moving. Text: Accessible Earth DIY Campaign Toolkit.
Downloadable and accessible!

Through Ability Tools and the Disability Organizing (DO) Network, the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers (CFILC), has launched its first Accessible Earth campaign in celebration of the collaborative efforts to make environmental conservation efforts accessible for all, including those with disabilities. Check out the Accessible Earth DIY Toolkit as a resource to create your own event and social media campaign:

Climate Impacts on the Disability Community

At the center of the diagram are human figures representing adults, children, older adults, and people with disabilities. The left circle depicts climate impacts including air quality, wildfire, sea level rise and storm surge, heat storms, and drought. The right circle shows the three interconnected health domains that will be affected by climate impacts—Medical/Physical, Mental, and Community.
More details available from the 2016 report from the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment.

Did you know that climate change impacts physical, mental, and community health? (And unfortunately, people with disabilities are more vulnerable to these impacts.) Extreme weather, emergencies and disasters can strike quickly and without warning, forcing people to quickly leave or be confined in their home unexpectedly. For the millions of Americans who have disabilities, emergencies, such as fires, floods and acts of terrorism, present a real challenge.

Accessible, Sustainable Solutions

The World Institute on Disability has launched its New Earth Initiative to provide groundbreaking research, education materials, and Partnerships with government, nonprofits & foundations.

Globe with yellow sign for emergency with 4 blue icons signifying various communication accommodations: Braille, ASL, general population, and intellectual/developmental disabilities; top of globe are various communication methods; Yellow evacuation sign 3 people moving toward exit; one person in a wheelchair. Corner image: people with disabilities moving on Earth using mobility devices. Tree. Ability Tools logo.
The World Institute on Disability’s New Earth Initiative offers plenty of resources regarding research and provides inclusive solutions.

The Disability community has only recently been more visible in the discussion of sustainability. The California Assistive Technology Reuse Coalition (CATRC) is helping to meet the needs of Californians with disabilities by providing previously-owned equipment at little or no cost. In doing so, CATRC is also helping to reduce harm to the environment by:

  • Preventing additional waste in landfills;
  • And reducing the need for additional manufacturing, which contributes to a carbon footprint.
Icon of a money bag, keyboard, Earth, people with mobility devices walking and wheeling. Text: Benefits of Reusing Assistive Technology (AT) Provides more access to AT; Provides free/low-cost AT; Reduces waste in landfills; Reduces resources needed to make new AT; Provides tax benefits (write-offs) for donors of used equipment.
Do you know the many benefits of reusing Assistive Technology (AT)?

Building Partnerships

A sea turtle emerges from a coral reef to offer kelp to a baby sea turtle. Yellow tangs are cleaning the sea turtle. Text reads, “we envision a world where we work together to ensure everyone has access to what they need.”
Art from Repeal Hyde Project

With support from Monterey Bay Aquarium, Disability Organizing (DO) Network conducted the nation’s first study on the Disability community’s experiences with non-plastic alternative straws. Check out the report here. Get tips on collaborating with local businesses in the Alternative Straw fact sheet.

Image of Earth with icon people with disabilities and trees moving. Text: "Let's Work Together to meet the needs of today without depleting the resources of tomorrow.

Join the conversation on social media for a more Accessible Earth!

Be sure to follow and use #AccessibleEarth to join the conversation!