Committed to Accessibility

ADS communications manager Irene Stewart and planning manager Andrea Yip accepted the N4A 2019 Aging Achievement Award on behalf of Age Friendly Seattle on July 28 in New Orleans.

In the past several years, Aging and Disability Services (ADS) has emphasized disability awareness and accessibility, particularly in communications and events. I’m proud to let you know that ADS received a 2019 Aging Achievement Award for Community Planning and Livable Communities from the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (N4A) for their work on accessibility—specifically, for Age Friendly Seattle’s Accessible Events and Meetings.

In 2017, Age Friendly Seattle published a Community Guide to Accessible Events & Meetings. They have updated the guide several times. It’s available as a free download on their website. The guide helps conversations focus on what it takes to provide a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere and give people the information they need to succeed, regardless of age or ability.

Prior to receiving N4A recognition, the guide was presented in trainings with local service providers and also at the 2018 and 2019 American Society on Aging’s Aging in America conferences; the 2018 AARP Livable Communities conference (see video); and the 2019 Hearing Loss Association of America convention and has received critical acclaim.

Last month, I shared the video of the Northwest Universal Design Council forum that Age Friendly Seattle and other staff supported. If you didn’t see it earlier, please watch and learn from a panel of people who are affected deeply by the way in which we promote and present events and meetings. Some are unaware that the ADS Advisory Council includes a Northwest Universal Design Council report in our monthly business meetings and have done so ever since we helped to found that organization more than a decade ago.

ADS staff has worked to make our Advisory Council meetings more accessible, by testing assisted listening systems and emphasizing proper microphone use but also considering lighting, seating, distance, and line-of-sight issues.

I hope readers know that a microphone and sound system should be used whenever possible. That’s a very basic requirement for hearing accessibility. But then, everyone needs to use it. To emphasize that point, I’m sharing the three memes below that were created by the Northwest Universal Design Council. Click on each to enlarge. Feel free to download and use on social media.

Congratulations to ADS director Cathy Knight and her staff on the N4A award—well deserved!

Ava FrisingerContributor Ava Frisinger chairs the Seattle-King County Advisory Council on Aging & Disability Services, which publishes AgeWise King County. She welcomes input from readers via e-mail ( as well as applicants for open positions on the council. For more information, visit

This article originally appeared in the August 2019 issue of AgeWise King County.