The month of September is Deaf Awareness Month. This month celebrates the rich cultural history of the Deaf community and it promotes advocacy for the rights of Deaf people. While Listen and Talk’s specialized services support families who seek a listening and spoken language approach, we have had the privilege of collaborating with and learning from other agencies that utilize American Sign Language or Signing Exact English. We believe that this open collaboration builds stronger communities and expands accessibility for all those who are deaf and hard of hearing.
Listen and Talk alumni parent, Elizabeth Ralston, is an inspiring example of someone dedicated to expanding access for people with hearing differences. Born with a profound hearing loss, Elizabeth received her first hearing aids at the age of seven months and later became a bilateral cochlear implant user. Her passion for serving others led her to join the Peace Corps, and she has devoted her life to public service ever since. Elizabeth married Ed Pottharst, who is also deaf. Together they worked with Listen and Talk Founder, Star Leonard-Fleckman, to build listening and spoken language skills for both of their children with hearing level differences.
Elizabeth’s commitment to expanding access for all extends far beyond her important role as a dedicated mother. In 2019, she established the Seattle Cultural Accessibility Consortium, a nonprofit which connects arts and culture organizations with the information and resources needed to improve accessibility for people of all abilities. She also started her own consulting business where she provides accessibility training to organizations. Elizabeth’s efforts produce tangible results. For example, she was instrumental in pioneering the first captioned show of the Pirates of Penzance at the Bagley Wright Theater this past summer. Initiatives such as this reveal opportunities to increase equitable access.
Elizabeth believes that accessible programs, events, and spaces attract a more diverse audience and deliver a greater return on investment. In a recent blog, she states “Accessibility doesn’t have to cost that much, especially if you plan from the very beginning using a universal design perspective and build relationships with disability communities in the advocacy and hiring process. Accessibility is not just a checklist. It’s a philosophy that must be integrated within the organization. And if that’s not enough motivation, people with disabilities represent a billion-dollar industry. If we’re represented, we will show up.”
A content creator and thought leader, Elizabeth is regularly featured in local blogs, news publications, and podcasts. We are so honored that she is a member of our Listen and Talk community and we are inspired by her commitment to building a world that provides accessibility for all!
This fall Elizabeth will host an accessibility training series. Use promo LISTENANDTALK for a discount.
October 12: 9 am PST/12 pm EST
Everyday Ableism: How it Shows up in Our Daily Lives
October 26: 9 am PST/12 pm EST
Integrating Accessibility into Your Organization: A Primer
November 9: 9 am PST/12 pm EST
Creating Accessible Virtual Programs, Events, or Meetings
Registration for series: https://www.tickettailor.com/events/accessibilitylearning/752731