Open Inclusion: Reducing Barriers in the Disability Community

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on April 28, 2022 # Events, Lifestyle

BAli Ingersolly Guest Blogger: Ali Ingersoll

Independence is all too often taken for granted by many of us. Living with a disability has the ability to drastically change one’s perspective on what’s important.

As a C6 quadriplegic, I have accepted that I will always need physical help in my daily activities. However, my definition of independence is entirely mental with respect to being financially stable and consistently advocating for those who are unable to stand up for themselves. A key linchpin in my daily life to make this happen is having an accessible computer set-up that allows me to operate my own technological life.

Over the last 18 months, I have worked tirelessly to marry my professional career with my disability advocacy work. I reached a point in my life where the work I engage in needs to be meaningful and help others in the disability community. I have come to realize this is who I am at my core - a person with a disability who believes in paying it forward, human kindness, and advancing inclusiveness for all.

I have been extremely fortunate to meet incredible leaders around the globe who have asked me to participate in delightful projects to help people in the pan-disability community gain meaningful employment, have their voices heard and time compensated for their insights. I am involved in many projects, but what is incredibly humbling to me is working with companies that truly celebrate my lived experience with a disability.

One such beautiful company I have recently started working with is Open Inclusion. Open Inclusion is an inclusive research, insight and design agency based in the UK and operating globally. Open has been built with, for and by people with disabilities. We amplify the voices of our diverse insight community by informing leading brands of their diverse customer need to help create solutions that are desired by people with disabilities, and better for all.

I have been graciously tasked with expanding the Open Community to the U.S. by collaborating with thoughtful organizations such as the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation to amplify the voices of those in the disability community, offer paid research opportunities to better inform brands on how to design and create more equitable and impactful products, and services. We are building a delightful community of “Creative Renegades” - a group of individuals with disabilities who are sick of being excluded from the bad design of product services or environments, and, more importantly, who want to do something about it! We really are a positively different community and recognize and value the power of diverse perspectives, including people with the lived experience of disability or other specific access needs. Will you join our community?

One incredible and fun initiative we have underway at the moment, in collaboration with the Reeve Foundation, is the Simply Open Awards 2022. The Simply Open Awards is a competition offering individuals with a disability to make a two-minute video focused on recognizing and sharing practical solutions across the disability community. Individuals with a disability or other specific access needs, friends, colleagues, teachers or family members will have the opportunity does demonstrate a solution showing how it reduces personal experiences of exclusion or how to better manage access challenges in a way that enhances independence, capability and joy.

Essentially these are solutions that are non-commercial “hacks” people with disabilities use in their daily lives and are willing to share with the world -- simple and creative homemade improvements that enable a person to perform or contribute to a task that they previously had difficulty accomplishing.

Winners in each of the 5 categories will be awarded prize money and the opportunity to attend the Zero Project Conference in Vienna in February 2023.

I’m humbled and proud to be able to work with a team around the globe that is committed to not only offering individuals with disabilities the opportunity to earn income to share their valuable ideas to affect real change for corporate brands, but a team that celebrates my own lived experience with a disability as a quadriplegic!

Please join us on May 5 at 10:00 AM ET for a special discussion with Open Inclusion’s Ali Ingersoll and Josh Wintersgill. Registration to attend the free presentation is now open.

Ali Ingersoll is a day trader, disability strategy consultant, Ms. Wheelchair North Carolina 2022, writer, blogger, editor, and public speaker.

She started her advocacy mission after being repeatedly denied medically necessary equipment by insurance companies over the last 12 years since becoming a C6 quadriplegic and full-time wheelchair user after a shallow water diving accident.

Ali’s passion lies in coaching people with disabilities on how to improve their quality of life by teaching them to self-advocate in order to live a life of independence, dignity, and grace. Disability Inclusion in our society is a priority. Ali focuses on improving every day. Ali has a firm philosophy of paying it forward by giving back to the community through working with stakeholders in the government, the non-profit world, and partnering organizations to create a more inclusive society and disability employment environment.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.