by PWS Builder
I am proud to announce that my role as Brand Ambassador for Global Disability Inclusion, LLC has been extended for 2017.
Working with Global Disability Inclusion (GDI), is an important part of my personal mission to create disability awareness. What better way to create change than by providing what I consider to be visual proof? By partnering with GDI, we not only provide proof through modeling efforts but by working with Fortune 500 companies to create disability inclusion programs which translate to career opportunities for people with disabilities.
In the last few years, we have been at the forefront of disability inclusion within the fashion industry. Some of our accomplishments include working in conjunction with production house FTL Moda in the first completely inclusive New York Fashion Week runway show. I had the opportunity to walk the runway as the first amputee without a prosthetic limb. Shortly thereafter, national luxury department store Nordstrom hired me to model for their anniversary catalog and later for their winter catalog. We have gone on to gain international press in publications ranging from GQ Italy, GQ Japan, The Sun, People, Cosmopolitan, and more.
The intention of my venture into modeling has always been to challenge the beauty standards created by society and perpetuated by the fashion industry. Let’s face it; we live in a world made up of all types of people with different cultures, identities, and lifestyles. To limit “beauty” to one particular look is unrealistic and unrepresentative of the world in which we live. By limiting what we deem socially acceptable in advertising, film, and print, we are making a silent statement about who we find acceptable within society. I’m proud to work with GDI in their goal to break down all of the stigmas surrounding disability so that we can truly create a more inclusive world.
Please stay tuned as we continue to create change!
Business Photo: Photographer Rich Heaton
Head shot with twisted hair: Photographer Marc Edwards and designer Ari South
by PWS Builder
“I’ve seen a lot of change in last 10 years. … I was able to model for a big company and worked with another amputee, Alex, and another model who is in a wheelchair and they didn’t try to hide our disabilities,” says Shaholly Ayers, a long-time model who is also a congenital amputee. In addition to being a fantastically accomplished model who has worked for Nordstrom, US Weekly, The New York Times, Glamour.com and walked the runway at New York Fashion Week, Ayers is also deeply invested in changing social perceptions of beauty and disability. “It’s about showing, visually, that a person with a disability, a person who is an amputee, is still capable. I still should be considered beautiful despite my missing limb. That shouldn’t be a reason why I can’t model.” And she has shown that it certainly isn’t holding her back; but her road had not been an easy one.
When asked why she wanted to be a model in the first place, Ayers said, “like any little girl, we all dream either of modelling, acting, singing, or at least I did. I always wanted to do that and had some idea that I’d be in front of the camera. I was 12-years-old when I had my first modelling competition. I got nothing. I didn’t win. And of course I wanted to try harder because of that.” However, when she approached a modelling agency in her later teens, she was told that “there was no way [she] was going to model—because of [her] arm—and that no photographers were doing to take photos of [her].” As anyone who glimpses Ayers’ portfolio and resume can see, the agency was absolutely wrong, but sadly, this kind of outright rejection of difference is indicative of pervasive attitudes in our culture.
Ayers ardently works on changing these attitudes twofold: 1) by providing “visual proof” as she calls it, that people outside our narrow assumptions of beauty can serve as beauty ideals, and 2) by being the ambassador for Global Disability Inclusion, a consulting firm that specializes in disability employment and inclusion strategies. “I think collectively our message is that people with disabilities are capable in all sorts of different types of jobs and should have [various] careers,” Ayers said.
One employer that carries much weight in the fight against society’s attitudes toward people with disabilities is arguably the very industry Ayers works in: modelling/fashion/advertising. The biggest issue in that field is exactly the dismissal with which Ayers is all too familiar. People with disabilities are often entirely absent from visual representation in our public consciousness. As Ayers noted, “there are companies, like Dove, who try to show normal, everyday, regular people. The sad thing is that people with disabilities are not being showcased even in those natural beauty campaigns that are supposed to represent everyday individuals. It’s sad because people with disabilities aren’t being reflected, but it’s also sad for the company because one in five people have a disability. The company is missing out on growing their business. It’s a huge opportunity.”
Ayers’ big hope and goal is to make it easier for the next generation to be seen and fully included. “In the next few years I’m hoping to establish myself more fully for people with disabilities, as an ambassador,” she said. Even though it is hard work and she encounters roadblocks and highly problematic depictions, like the Vogue Brazil incident, Ayers’ remains both optimistic and determined. “We’re working on making [the changes] more permanent,” she said, “but I think there is change.”Ayers is tireless in disseminating just this message that inclusion of people with disabilities in marketing is not just good for the consumers who see themselves represented, but it’s good for the company as well. She recently attended our Ruderman Studio-Wide Roundtable on Disability Inclusion in Hollywood where over 100 actors, producers, writers, agents and executives assembled to emphasize the same message when it comes to television and movies. People with disabilities need to be included to grow the company and to change public attitudes and stereotypes. “I was blown away. I’ve been doing this for several years, I didn’t realize so many people felt the exact same way,” Ayers said of the Roundtable. For her it can often seem like a lonely battle as a person with a disability in an industry that traditionally erases any disability or perceived flaw. “The conversation about authentic disability for me hit home because of the most recent Vogue Brazil issue where they photo-shopped able-bodied models to look like Paralympic athletes. That was very disturbing. These are actors and actresses that have had to overcome so much themselves and it was powerful and encouraging.”
by PWS Builder
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., Aug. 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — US-based Global Disability Inclusion LLC and Belgium-based In-Fusion today announced a global strategic partnership that will expand collaboration between the two organizations dedicated to disability inclusion in the workplace, the workforce and the marketplace.
“We are thrilled to expand our reach to the European Union and to collaborate with Servaas,” said Meg O’Connell, President of Global Disability Inclusion, referring to former Paralympian and Gold Medalist, Servaas Kamerling, founder of In-Fusion. “Servaas has been active in disability inclusion work for some time. We have similar approaches to our collective work for creating greater opportunities and inclusion of those with disabilities. Our partnership with In-Fusion is a milestone, and we are excited about the road ahead.”
“We are very excited to support each other’s efforts in helping companies make disability inclusion a part of their culture, and a common practice in the workplace,” Kamerling said. “The inclusion gap is a global phenomenon and to cooperate at a multi-national level with Global Disability Inclusion will benefit corporations and their employees worldwide.”
The partnership allows Global Disability Inclusion and In-Fusion to further expand its reach globally, while thinking locally in responding to opportunities for those with disabilities and assisting companies in becoming disability competitive.
Global Disability Inclusion LLC is a boutique consulting firm offering disability inclusion strategies and solutions to Global 500 companies and federal contractors.
In-Fusion is a consultancy company that aims to approach disability inclusion holistically, with pragmatism and with a business sense, driving optimal return on investment.
SOURCE Global Disability Inclusion
by PWS Builder
by PWS Builder
NEW YORK, Sept. 10, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Global Disability Inclusion, LLC, will join forces once again with FTL MODA to increase the diversity and visibility of models with disabilities in the fashion industry. A Times Square billboard will feature emerging model Shaholly Ayers, a congenital amputee who will appear in the FTL MODA show, during New York Fashion Week.