Brianna Arnett grew up in a large family full of different skin tones, intellectual abilities, and passions. From a young age, Arnett understood that all people — regardless of race, ability, aptitude, or any other qualifier — had a specific purpose, a unique trajectory, and an individual goal. However, she rapidly realized that the world didn’t necessarily share that perspective, and there are a lot of inherent biases and societal hurdles for those with disabilities: access to resources, limited options for self-expression and community involvement, and a world full of people – well-meaning and not – who don’t know how to engage with people that are different. Arnett’s hope in advocacy is that those with disabilities will have access to many of the things that those without take for granted and that they feel included in their communities instead of being forced to exist in a parallel one.
Increasing Accessibility to and Integration with Existing Community Resources
The first hurdle many of us must cross is the hurdle of knowing where to start and where to go from there. Arnett is gathering a directory of community resources (government services, day programs, local organizations, and employment or volunteer opportunities) in a centralized location (our public library) and cultivating contacts so new resources can be added as they become available. Arnett is also creating a training program that will start – but hopefully not stop – at the public library. This program educates employees who work in public spaces on a variety of strategies for increasing general accessibility. Arnett’s aim is to create a culture of being proactively inclusive instead of reactively inclusive.