Celebrating Diversity with Amanda McDonough
In recognition of National Disability Awareness Month, Cresa recently welcomed Amanda McDonough to share her inspiring personal story, discuss strategies for overcoming obstacles, and to provide guidance on accommodating people with disabilities in the workplace and in life.
Amanda McDonough is a SAG/AFTRA actress, published author, and inspirational speaker who communicates fluently in English and American Sign Language. Amanda’s recent acting credits include: Netflix’s “Sweet Magnolia’s,” ABC’s “Speechless,” NBC’s “Bad Judge,” and Freeform’s “Switched at Birth”. Several of her films have gone on to show in various festivals, like her short film “Lady Electric” which showed at the Cannes Film Festival and in 2022 she was nominated for “Best Actress” at ESDF for her lead role in “In the Mirror.” Amanda’s life story is unique and inspiring and has even been the subject of film documentaries such as USC’s “Amanda” and radio broadcast stories such as KCRW’s “Silence.” Her memoir, “Ready to be Heard: How I Lost My Hearing and Found My Voice,” details the true story of how Amanda became Deaf, fought for her independence, and found her purpose. To learn more about Amanda, visit her website amanda-mcdonough.com, her book website ReadyToBeHeard.com, or her speaker website AmandaMcDonoughSpeaker.com
Below is a full recording of the webinar along with a few highlights pulled from the conversation.
People and companies until recently have not realized the immense buying power that people with disabilities have. It's $500 billion worth of purchasing power. This is just including people with disabilities in the US. Believe it or not, one out of every four Americans has a disability. Adults with hearing loss make up 15.5 percent of the U.S. population. That's 40 million people, a huge group of people who are ready, willing, and able to be included in the conversation.
A World That’s More Inclusive is Better for All
The Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal civil rights law that was passed in 1990, and its purpose is really to prevent discrimination of people with disabilities or people who are perceived to have disabilities and to provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities and so we can have equal access to different areas of life.
A lot of people think about the ADA and think, well, if I don't have a disability, how does this affect me? It's does! Because of the ADA and disability advocacy, there are so many things that make our daily life better. Here are a few examples:
- Electronic tooth brushes
- TV and social media captions
- Text Messages
Avocating for accesibility and inclusivity helps create a better and more effecient world for all of us.
There are so many different ways to make life and work more accessible. In some cases, it may be as simple as altering the angle or position of a desk. But the best way to know, is always to ask.
"The biggest challenge I have in my life is not my hearing loss. It's not being deaf. It is other people's assumptions about what I can and cannot do that make my life hard."
So, how can we all can be more accommodating in the workplace and in life?
- Don't make assumptions, stay open-minded and be willing to learn.
- Ask what the person's preferences are.
- Educate yourself on accessibility options.
- Be kind, be patient, and be respectful.
Thank you to Amanda McDonough for sharing her story and her wisdom!