Inclusion at Federation’s Annual Meeting

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Annual Meeting on August 31, 2017 will feature some new accommodations for people with disabilities—outcomes of Rosh Pina Certification in which the Jewish Federation, Jewish Family & Children’s Service and Jewish Residential Services participated last year. Rosh Pina is a non-profit consulting organization offering the Cornerstone Certification process, a way for organizations and institutions to meet the requirements of their special needs populations by leading them on a year-long journey to create meaningful, enduring change. Rosh Pina Cornerstone Certification aims to produce a truly inclusive community.

Certification not only serves those with special needs but also positively impacts the organization as a whole. The Jewish Federation has made a number of changes consistent with the principles of “universal design.” Universal design stresses the idea that changes that help to accommodate people with disabilities often help everyone.

During the upcoming Annual Meeting, for example, the Jewish Federation will be live-streaming the event to various other locations. The live stream will enable people with mobility challenges to hear the event from a more convenient location. This model will also eventually help everyone—with and without disabilities—participate in events from more distant suburbs in Pittsburgh.

Many of the changes that the Jewish Federation has made for universal design have cost nothing, such as the addition of a box on electronic event registration forms that asks whether attendees need accommodations for a disability. This simple change has resulted in many requests that were very simple to accommodate and enabled community members to have a much better event experience.

As well as the live stream, other specific changes to the Annual Meeting that will help individuals with disabilities include:

  • Live interpretation in American Sign Language;
  • Subtitles on videos for people with hearing challenges;
  • Large-print programs and event materials for people with vision challenges; and
  • Layout and specific seating areas more accommodating for wheelchairs.

The Jewish Federation now has an event guide available to help organizations think through the event elements they need to make their event more disabled accessible. The Rosh Pina cohort developed this guide along with a number of Jewish agencies who have their own event guides because they have long been addressing the needs of people with disabilities, including the Hillel Jewish University Center, Community Day School, Hillel Academy, Yeshiva Schools, the Jewish Association on Aging and the Jewish Community Center of Pittsburgh.

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