May 24, 2011

Accessibility and Disability Ponderings

I can't remember if I mentioned this, but I'm working with the Human Rights Campaign on their web team this summer as an intern. It's only my second day, and I've already learned a lot!

One of the things it has me thinking about is accessibility, and the needs for accessibility within the LGBTQ etc. community. A lot of my training on how to code HTML has included making sure content is accessible, particularly for blind users or users otherwise unable to see the content.

Which has me wondering...

How else can websites be made accessible? (The other thing that springs right to mind is transcripts/subtitles on any content with audio and maybe taking steps to insure readability, like how on the HRC website you can make the font bigger easily on each page. But I feel like there are things I'm leaving out.)

So then I was wondering about how disability affects LGBT people in general and particularly their ability to reach resources. The HRC website talks a lot about protecting yourself from discrimination in health care, finding accepting health care providers, hospital visitation, things like that. It also talks extensively about HIV, which is obviously a big medical issue for LGBT people.

But then I was wondering... aren't LGBT people disproportionately affected by mental illness? (Or at least, they're at a higher-than-average risk of suicide, and maybe substance abuse? I would have to look up statistics, I don't have them off hand, but both of those seem familiar to me.) Do they have unique mental health needs, and are there organizations and resources to address those? I know that some therapists will list a specialty in, or at least openness to, helping LGBT clients, on webpages and provider search engines. But are community orgs doing anything to address mental health things? What would information, services, or resources specifically for mentally ill LGBT people look like, other than projects like It Gets Better?

And then going back to... How could that go on a website, in a way that's accessible to viewers coming from a wide variety of potentially difficult situations?

So that's what I'm thinking about. I'm curious about what resources for LGBTs with physical disabilities would look like, too, because I can't recall ever seeing anything of the kind, though of course it probably exists somewhere and I just haven't looked.

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