Meet the Accessibility Roundtable: Eva Laporte
Meet the Accessibility Roundtable: In this series, we’ll be getting to know the team members that make up this cross-departmental working group to improve OneTable’s accessibility (learn more about the Accessibility Roundtable here). Join Naomi (they/them), Miami Field Manager, and Eva (she/her), Director of Marketing + Communications, in conversation about Eva’s story, why she joined the roundtable, and what she loves about this work.
What does accessibility mean to you?
Access to community, to experiences, and to learning is all about authentic relationships. Everyone has needs, not just disabled folks. When spaces, gatherings, and communities are built through the lens of accessibility, through human-centered design, for instance, everyone belongs.
As a disabled person, when folks ask what I need for a space to be accessible, it’s an invitation to enter a relationship as my whole self, without judgment. I recognize that the effort to prioritize accessibility is hard, it’s often messy and folks feel like they’ll get it wrong. But, asking questions, thinking creatively, taking steps to make spaces accessible shows a willingness to meet others where they are.
How does accessibility strengthen our OneTable community?
I’ve found that when a person or organization addresses accessibility, they’re heightening their intention to engage with others. What a gift to think about how something will affect someone else, to think of their safety, well-being, and sense of belonging.
At OneTable, we talk about intention everyday – we know that setting an intention for our weekly Shabbat practices, for instance, elevates our rituals and deepens our connection to others. This shows up in our core values – joy, welcoming, hospitality – and in our diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) goals.
By questioning the accessibility of every step of our work – our engagement model, our dining platform, our communications, our staff development – we’re adding tools to our OneTable community toolbox.
What inspired you to join the Accessibility Roundtable? Do you have a personal connection to this work?
Being disabled has allowed me to bring different perspectives to my leadership roles. At OneTable, I was thrilled there was an #accessibility slack channel for the whole team to chat and even more excited that we had a cross-departmental roundtable to take action on the needs and ideas in our community.
My background in access and outreach work in professional theatre has also allowed me a leadership role. At Chicago Children’s Theatre, where I served as the education and access manager, I had the honor of project managing accessibility services for productions, like touch tours, audio description, CART captioning, social tours, etc. CCT produces The Red Kite Project, a series of innovative productions for autistic children and their families, Camp Red Kite, performed in a national Red Kite tour, and instructed professional development for Chicago-area teachers in arts integration.
While in Chicago, I also helped project manage A.B.L.E. Ensemble, an outstanding project managed by Katie Yohe and Lawrence Kern, that provides performing arts experiences for teens and young adults with Down syndrome and other intellectual and developmental disabilities. There, we made movies and collaborated on found-text plays using Shakespeare! You’ve got to check it out!
As the founder of a theatre project in San Antonio, TX, The Surround Project, we’ve focused on building access into our innovative contemporary theatre projects.
What’s a change or project you’ve been working on to improve OneTable’s accessibility functions for the team and/or users?
I love our accessible feature on our website and I’ve been really interested in visual accessible design + social stories for OneTable participants. Social stories are pictures and explanations of what a guest will experience at an event/space. For example, at the theatre, a social story might include a picture of the parking lot or bus station, the front entry, a picture of the ticket counter person waving hello, etc. It’s a quick supplemental guide for folks to help them anticipate the social situation they’re walking into.
What’s something you’re excited to learn more about?
I’m digging learning about accessible and equitable data visualization (how to represent our great research at OneTable, for instance, in an accessible and equitable way).
In what ways does the work of your specific department need to be mindful of accessibility needs?
Our marketing + communications department thinks about accessibility and our values every day! Our language and imagery, our brand, is one of the key ways we build relationships. We are challenging ourselves to bring diverse perspectives into the OneTable story (our team, our organizational culture), to your OneTable Shabbat story (reflecting how access and diversity shows up at your Shabbat tables, how you’re building your community), and to the story of the OneTable Shabbat movement!