Time to Open the Door

The saying goes “When one door closes, another one opens.” But, for people living with a disability, often times that second door is kept closed.   

For many individuals with disabilities, the job market can be a challenging and sometimes even daunting place. Even though people with disabilities make up 15% of the world’s population, they are often overlooked and underrepresented in the workforce. 

This community remains largely side-lined by businesses, with only 4% of the 90% of companies that claim to prioritize diversity and inclusion considering disability in their initiatives, according to a report from the Return on Disability Group.

Disability empathy must be spread to HR teams so they are more comfortable building employee trust to knock down the bias of the employees. 

We Don’t Want Your Pity.

When I entered the workforce after college, I had my own fears of disclosing my invisible disability in the workplace.

Should I tell them about my hearing loss in the interview? Will it help me or hurt me?

I don’t want to be harassed, passed over for opportunities or never be hired for another role once someone learns of my disability. Today, this is still a concern for many to disclose their disability. Are you ready to change that 
narrative? Can we all just be? Let’s start by having an authentic conversation.

I will never forget those who didn’t define me by my hearing disability; leaders need to lead with empathy. If only more companies could create an environment that opens conversations to being disability inclusive, we wouldn’t be so worried to disclose our disability.

Just imagine someone coming onto your team increasing your bottom line and enhancing your culture’s performance.  Now you don’t have to Imagine, it is possible when you lead with this mindset.  

Now, I am paying the opportunity forward to a smart and driven college intern, Brett, who just joined the Ready or Not! Media team. Collectively, we are having empathetic conversations to have a disability inclusive workforce. 

I asked Brett, “What does the word Opportunity mean to you?”

Brett: Opportunity to me means that I am being seen, heard and have been looked at not only for my abilities, but for my capabilities. I am fully engaged, invested, grateful, excited, and determined to show that a physical disability should never be a barrier to achieving one’s goals and aspirations. 

Does this sound like someone deserves an opportunity?

“YES!” I thought so.

We ARE READY to work, and show the world what we CAN do.

Are You Ready to Rock the Runway?

It’s Time to Rock the Runway!

While efforts to design for those with disabilities have grown, the adaptive apparel market remains widely untapped.

It makes perfect FASHION sense, after all, when you consider that the disabled population is one of the biggest markets in the world.

With over $13 trillion in purchasing power, this population is bigger than the population of China.

By 2026, it’s estimated that that number will be $400 trillion and still growing!

You are probably thinking “Did I hear that right?” 


Back in 1997, as a fashion editor and associate publisher at WE magazine (the first lifestyle magazine for the disabled community), I was ready to bring out the very best from athletic wear to couture.  It’s important that the mainstream is learning to see that just because we may have a disability does not mean we can’t be one with style.

It’s time to roll out the red carpet.

Adaptive Clothing is Overdue in Stores, Especially Boutiques!

Tommy Hilfiger, one of the few leading designers has recognized this need and created magnetic buttons – stylish on the outside with a magnet on the inside to make dressing easier for some. One of many designs he has in his adaptive wear collection. 

Companies like Gamut Management have recognized and revolutionized the need not only for accessible clothing but also for a process to help consumers identify brands that are vetted and create authentically Adaptive products. Started in 2019, their GAMUT Seal is a mark to show that the company has met a stringent set of requirements and that they are meeting the needs in the disability space, as decided by experts.

It’s time for designers to take fashion forward and ditch the ableist mindset that people with disabilities are somehow “less than” or “not worthy” of stylish clothing.

Second, they need to start actually designing clothing that is accessible and usable for people with a wide range of disabilities. And finally, they need to be vocal about their commitment to inclusivity.

Let’s continue to bridge the gap of the fashion industry  with people with disabilities for ALL seasons. Let’s lead with role models who are championing globally with access, authenticity and style on our runways.

We Still Have a Long Way to Go

Does advertising have a responsibility to be inclusive?

Have you seen or heard any memorable ads from your favorite brands lately? Chances are, probably not.

Interestingly, a few clients pinged me recently to comment on an ad they saw. The common denominator – the ad featured a person with a disability. Not because of their disability but showing empathy towards it. How novel.

Advertisers cannot afford to miss out on this potential $21 billion market of people with disabilities, their families, and friends. In 2021, ad spending, including people with a disability and disability-related themes, totaled $57 Million.

Still, only 3% went to ads featuring disabled people or including disability themes in the creative. We have seen some progress this past year, and I have a hunch that unless the powers do otherwise, nothing will change in 2023—a perfect opportunity for brands to lead authentically to reinforce a sense of belonging.

Are you Ready! to expand your media footprint in 2023?

This needs to change. Ads need to be more inclusive of the disabled. Not because of their disability but because of who they are as a person. The disability is a small part of them; it does not define the totality of who they are.

To the brands at large, I’d like to encourage you to cast actors with disabilities in your commercials. They, too, have talent, heart, and a fervent commitment to their craft. If you do this with empathy, seeing them for their exceptional talent, you will make a positive contribution, and your commercials will be more memorable. What’s not to like about having your ads become more memorable for its heart?

Apple just launched a new “The Greatest” campaign celebrating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities showing off its latest accessibility features. This is a great start to innovation, but others need to engage with this untapped market to broaden their companies to think ALL ACCESS.

Please know this is not just about putting someone in an ad or creating products and services that are accessible. It is about supporting (through your products and services) a substantial segment of the buying population – 15% of the world’s population happens to be disabled. It will continue to grow as we continue to age as well.

Collectively, we can change and shape society’s attitudes for the better. We can adjust our mindsets and create opportunities to remove the ignorance of ableism we confront daily.

Living Life on Your Own Terms

“The sheer relief of finally being able to do what so many people take for granted was a special moment I won’t forget.”
– Colin Hughes

For disabled people, getting through the day can be a daunting task.

One of the biggest challenges is that oftentimes, we’re dependent on others to assist us with certain tasks and lose our sense of independence.

Between physical environments that might not be accessible to those in wheelchairs or scooters, audio concerns for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, or negative attitudes people can have towards those of us with disabilities, we also have to think about our technology needs as well – will we have access to assistive, adaptive, or rehabilitative devices throughout our day?

Apple has learned our frustrations and is raising the bar with its accessibility features to assist us to take back our freedom and take charge of our day on our own terms.

What might have once seemed like a futuristic home gadget or ‘back to the future technology’ are now becoming more universal and are making lives easier for everyone – disabled or not.

Apple is setting the precedent for what universal design should look like.

While these things were initially created to help the disabled population, they’ve turned into features that help virtually everyone at some point in their lives.

  • Closed Captions for the deaf or hard of hearing
  • Automatic Doors for those with wheelchairs or crutches
  • ScreenReaders for the blind or visually impaired
    When Apple designed the LED flashing when the phone rang, or a message came in, I was able to breathe a small sigh of relief—no more missed calls or messages because I couldn’t hear the ringing!

It’s these small changes that make the biggest difference.

We’ve come so far over the last few years, and it doesn’t look like advances in accessibility will stop anytime soon.
The work never stops.

There are so many other accessibility features that help support vision, physical, motor, hearing, and learning needs. Really, the list gets longer and longer with every new update! 

For example, Apple has stepped up its game with enhancements and updates, especially its iOS 16 software. Voice control is now easier to use than ever, the software is getting better and better at understanding human speech, and you can easily control almost your entire home by voice if that’s what you choose to utilize.

Companies like this that are leading with accessibility on their agendas are presenting our communities to be more productive and lead overall more fulfilled lives.

We deserve to go through our day easier, with less stress, and on our own terms. And thanks to companies like this, we can. Keep leading.

Amazon Has Gifts Worth Giving This Year

Workforces that are disability-inclusive clearly enhance the corporate culture.

Last week, I went to my local Amazon Hub to pick up my package of books…but they couldn’t locate my boxes. There was some confusion, paging, and calling of management to try and find my boxes. And then, I noticed something that would change the rest of my day…

A sign on the counter stopped me in my tracks: “Hello. I’m Deaf. Please have patience while I assist you”.

It turns out that the woman assisting me was deaf like me. Talk about things coming full circle! Ironically, I’m here picking up my books, and my chapter is about my journey as a deaf woman. If interested, you can read more about that here.

By this point, the supervisor had come over to try and help, and she had her boss on the phone. However, the store was noisy, and the phone had a poor connection. I couldn’t make out a word. What was I supposed to do?

The younger Lori would have been afraid to ask for help.

These days though, I’m not insecure and am proud to say, “I am deaf and cannot hear you. Can you please assist me?”

While the supervisor went back to talking to the boss and finding my boxes, the employee and I shared a smile and a whole conversation about our journeys, where we went to school, our families, and more!

It’s time to stop labeling ourserves as we have so much to offer the world and the workforce.

To see another individual like me doing her job, serving her customers, being authentic, and surrounded by a team that treats her with respect, is a heartwarming feeling.

We never know another person’s story or journey but watching this one unfold in front of me reminded me to continue being authentic, which will continue to allow others to be as well.

Authentic connections were made that day. Empathetic conversations were held. Access was delivered. Loyalty will continue. Leaders like this are leading. Staying true to yourself is the most transformational gift you can give the world. Amazon proved that being in a place of belonging is the new customer loyalty, A gift worth giving.