Why Should Your Association Become More Accessible and Inclusive?





That’s the percentage of professionals with disabilities who are concerned that their disability may negatively impact their competitiveness in the job market, according to our recent survey.  

Think about that for a second.  

It’s not a meaningless statistic – it’s the thoughts and feelings of your current and prospective members.  

Clearly, professionals with disabilities need an ally when it comes to making the workplace more accessible and inclusive.  

Your association can be that ally.  

But what can your association do to become more accessible and inclusive so it can lead the charge for a more just and fairer workplace?  

We answer that question below in detail, taking a close look at the data, benefits of accessibility and inclusivity for associations, and the steps your association can take to ultimately become more accessible and inclusive, as well as fight for inclusion and accessibility in the workplace itself. 


Look at the Data 

Examining the data closely reveals why professionals with disabilities need allies like associations in the fight for inclusion and accessibility.  

In addition to the 73% of professionals with disabilities concerned that their disability would have a negative impact on their ability to compete in the job market, our survey of 202 professionals with disabilities also revealed that: 

  • 61% said that their career growth was negatively impacted by their disability 
  • 82% of respondents said it was either important or very important that employers have an inclusive and diverse workforce

Ableism is in all workplaces.”

- A survey respondent when asked: Are you concerned your disability might have a negative effect on your ability to successfully compete for jobs?  



As the data clearly states, professionals with disabilities fear that their disabilities will impede their career growth. They also value employers who prioritize accessibility, equity and diversity.  

As our survey data laid out, inclusion is a top priority for professionals with disabilities, given the very real fear of discrimination and bias. Fortunately, associations like yours can lead the fight by promoting accessibility and inclusion for professionals with disabilities so they can benefit from the training, credentialing and networking they need to advance their careers.  



Employers are more likely to overlook [professionals with disabilities] in favor of those who are young, disposable and get the job done quickly without need.

-A survey respondent when asked: Do you believe your career growth opportunities are negatively affected by your disability?



What are the Benefits of Accessibility for Associations? 

According to the CDC, 26% of American adults – 61 million people – have a disability.  

For associations like yours, embracing DEI and accessibility can be a great way to tap into this huge market. Here’s just a few benefits for associations like yours when it comes to promoting accessibility for professionals with disabilities.  

Greater Membership 

Want to grow your membership? Becoming more accessible and inclusive is a great way to do just that! 

While most many societies and associations have taken steps to boost accessibility in recent years, millions of American adults are still living with a disability today. By prioritizing accessibility and placing values like diversity, inclusion and respect at the core of your association’s values, you can better position your association as a welcoming and safe environment for professionals with disabilities.  

Further, by advocating for accessibility and inclusivity in the workplace itself, your society can open new doors for professionals with disabilities as a place to network, learn and advance their careers.  

Increased Revenue 

By boosting your membership, your association can also boost its revenue.  

Through accessibility and inclusion, your higher membership can produce increased dues for years to come, making your association more financially secure.  

Better Member Engagement and Satisfaction 

Embracing accessibility and DEI for professionals with disabilities can create a more welcoming and secure environment not just for them, but for all members. This, in turn, can increase members satisfaction and engagement significantly.  

Improved Member Retention 

When members are more engaged and satisfied with your association, they’re more likely to renew their membership, lowering membership churn and bolstering your ranks for the long-term.  


Interested in Learning More?

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How Can Your Association Become More Accessible and Inclusive? 

How exactly can your association leverage these benefits? Implement these action points below! 

Use Respectful and Inclusive Language 

Using respectful, inclusive language that dignifies professionals with disabilities is essential.  

Conduct an extensive audit of your website, marketing collateral and other content to ensure that you’re using inclusive languages in all instances. For example, scrub any language that includes outdated terminology such as “invalid” or “cripple” and replace it with updated, inclusive language like “person with a disability.”  

Doing so is a small yet crucial step to ensure that all professionals are welcomed, dignified and respected in your association.  

Make Your Website Fully Accessible 

In this day and age, having an optimized website is key. However, just having a well-designed site built with SEO in mind isn’t enough. Your association needs to ensure that its fully accessible for everyone.  

Aim to ensure your website is up to Web Content Accessibility Guideline (WCAG) standards to minimize access barriers for people with disabilities. This can be done in a number of ways, including using correct header tags for successful screen reader interpretation, designing it with consistent navigation elements and structure in mind, including image alt tags, implementing accessible forms and optimizing for sufficient color contrast.  

Weave Respect and Dignity into Your Code of Conduct 

Take the opportunity to modernize your code of conduct by updating it to prioritize respect and dignity for professionals with disabilities. By doing so, your association can create a more welcoming environment that creates a safe space where professionals with disabilities can learn, network and advance their careers.  

Prioritize Assistive Technology  

Many professionals with disabilities require some form of assistive technology.  

In addition to making your website fully accessible, ensure that your offices and offsite meeting and event locations are equipped with assistive technology, such as screen readers and text-to-speech web applications.  

Advocate for Accessibility and Inclusion in Your Industry

Becoming more accessible and inclusive as an association is only one step. To truly help professionals with disabilities advance their careers, it’s vital to become a vocal advocate for inclusion, equity and accessibility in your industry.  

Doing so can create a fairer and more just workplace for professionals with disabilities, helping them successfully advance their careers and compete in the labor market.  



I struggle with undervaluing myself and may let others undervalue me as well.

- A survey respondent when asked: Do you believe your career growth opportunities are negatively affected by your disability?



Become an Accessibility Ally Today 

By becoming an accessibility ally, associations can not only lead the fight for a more equitable workplace, but also enjoy benefits like increased membership, higher revenue, and greater member engagement and satisfaction.  

Want to learn more? Download our free eBook on how associations can advocate for inclusion and accessibility for professionals with disabilities.