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Written by Adrienne Bell, Ability Center Board Member


Today, I am a full-time working mother, who likes to lift weights and run as a hobby. Twenty years ago, I was a college student playing soccer. Life evolves and so do Communities. Many businesses and communities are focusing on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives to steer evolution on the right path. Driving DEI initiatives within communities is only successful when we have educated and courageous conversations. To have those productive conversations, one must understand gender, racial, religious, and disability terminology and differences.

I was diagnosed with a profound hearing loss and labeled deaf at 18 months. Even though I was compared to ‘social norms’, I was fortunate to be surrounded by people who understood there is no such thing as ‘normal’ and helped me see and learn what my abilities were. Everyone has been dealt something that you or I haven’t personally experienced. I don’t view my deafness as a disability. It’s a part of who I am. Someone else may feel completely differently. I encourage you to bring empathy to the table. Learn through your personal experiences and grow by being a courageous, patient listener. If you don’t know how to handle a conversation, address the person in first identity and constructively ask questions. Properly initiating the conversation on the right path is 75% of the challenge.

It’s conversations that will drive positive changes in the community and set an inclusive foundation for our children. Serving on The Ability Center Board allows me to advocate for those with disabilities and feed the passion of making Toledo a disability-friendly community.

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The Ability Center

5605 Monroe Street
Sylvania, OH 43560