Q&A with Tiffany Yu, Founder of Diversability

This month’s installment of our Accessibility Activists column is an interview with Tiffany Yu, the Director of Business Development at REVOLT Media & TV. Yu is also the founder of Diversability, an award-winning social movement to rebrand disability. She graduated with honors from Georgetown University and currently lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @ImTiffanyYu.

When did you first get started in accessibility?

I have brachial plexus palsy (nerve damage) in my right arm as a result of a car accident in 1997. I spent much of my adolescence refusing to acknowledge that aspect of my identity, but I became an “accidental advocate” in the disability space in 2009. I was participating in a diversity training in college and we were asked to cut out slices of a pie based on our social identities and how important they were to us (i.e., gender, ethnicity, etc.). Disability made up almost half of my pie because it was something that I thought about every day. When I looked at my neighbor’s pie, being “able-bodied” was the thinnest slice of his pie. It made me realize that disability was missing from the conversation and I felt compelled to do something about it.

What project are you most proud of from your work in accessibility?

I created Diversability, a social movement that fosters community to rebrand disability. We connect, showcase, and empower people of all abilities doing amazing things. We want to get more people talking and thinking about disability as a core part of the diversity conversation.

I am most proud of the new friendships and partnerships that have formed out of people meeting through Diversability. I also love seeing people in the community feel empowered to start their own projects or try something new, like Jason leading Diversability’s efforts in Los Angeles even though we have never met in person before, to my own experiences going rock climbing for the first time in more than 18 years last month!

What is your current area of focus in the accessibility field?

With Diversability, we are focused on uniting the disability community, engaging people without disabilities (or allies) in the conversation, and celebrating disability pride and empowerment. We provide a platform online and a physical space for people to bring their full authentic selves and belong. There is so much great work being done in the space to solve different aspects related to accessibility and we want to serve as a partner and way to help showcase those solutions and technology being built. We also want to foster an environment where people come together socially if not for any other reason than to hang out with some amazing people… because why not? 🙂

What accessibility barrier would you like technology to solve?

Would “all of the above” be an appropriate answer here? I’m really excited about the power of technology and human-centered design to contribute to the inclusion of people with disabilities in society. Technology and solutions should enhance access to opportunities for all, regardless of ability.

Watch Yu’s presentation on Diversability at the Talking Book Library in NYC:

I'm really excited about the power of technology and human-centered design to contribute to the inclusion of people with disabilities in society.

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