Sustainability starts with disability inclusion and accessibility.

For starters, for every 1 % increase in people with disabilities working, $25 billion would be added to the US economy.

Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC
3 min readFeb 16, 2021

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Many people start the year with New Year’s resolutions:

  • Reduce, reuse, recycle
  • Purchase more sustainable solutions
  • Buy local

But each of these resolutions only addresses one small aspect of the overall sustainability problem. The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) are a series of 17 integrated goals that are part of the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Most UN SDGs can be tied to disability and accessibility, either directly or indirectly.

GOAL 1: No Poverty — People with disabilities are twice as likely to be at poverty level in the US due to the impact of inaccessible education and job discrimination on their earning abilities.

GOAL 2: Zero Hunger — Households with at least one person with a disability are 1/3 more likely to be food insecure.

GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being — Adults with disabilities are more than four times as likely to report their health as fair or poor than adults without disabilities. This derives at least in part from the linkage between work and private health insurance in the US. Discrimination in education leads to lower employment opportunities, which then forces people with disabilities to enroll in poorly funded public health care systems that result in health inequalities.

GOAL 4: Quality Education — American children with disabilities in special education have a significantly higher drop out rate than children without disabilities. Children with mental health disabilities experience the highest drop out rate in the US. Outside of the US, less than 5 % of children with disabilities have access to any education at all.

Sheri Byrne-Haber, CPACC

LinkedIn Top Voice for Social Impact 2022. UX Collective Author of the Year 2020. Disability Inclusion SME. Sr Staff Accessibility Architect @ VMware.