Reimagining Universal Accessibility: How Social Barriers Disable Puerto Ricans Amidst a Global Pandemic

Megan Leonard, Rainer Braun, and Jocelyn Lieu, Global Studies, Long Island University Brookyln, 1 University Plaza, Brooklyn NY, 11201

Transitioning from physical to virtual spaces opens up infinite possibilities for schools, workplaces, and communities to reimagine accessibility and inclusion. This potential for positive change is especially critical today since marginalized and disabled communities are disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Puerto Rico’s history of systemic political discrimination made their health care infrastructe and economy less resilient to COVID-19. Disability advocates also consider that disabled Puerto Ricans faced ableism before and throughout the pandemic, which creates significant barriers in education, employment, and community involvement. This case study aims to answer the question: How are disability advocacy organizations in Puerto Rico addressing the physical and social barriers diabled people face in virtual spaces? SER de Puerto Rico, an NGO and disability advocacy organization (DAO), has a Concienciación (Awareness) program that promotes disability inclusion. As an intern for this program, I participated in research and development of educational resources by reviewing legislation and completing online workshops that address special education, and employment and virtual  accessibility. These documents reflect a long history of successfully addressing physical barriers by changing perceptions of people with disabilities in society and in legislation. This case study finds that DAOs in Puerto Rico are addressing physical and social barriers in virtual spaces by promoting awareness about the benefits of disability inclusion to people with and without disabilities. 

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Megan Leonard

Institution: Long Island University

Type: Poster

Subject: Diversity Studies

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 5
Date/Time: Tue 12:30pm-1:30pm
Session Number: 4076