Striving to remove barriers that prevent us from building Vibrant, Diverse, Inclusive, Accessible Communities!

Accessibility and Inclusion are not products or services to be purchased. Instead, they should be integrated as regular processes at all stages of our community building efforts. Accessibility should not be an afterthought but rather systematically planned for and integrated into all communications, community activities, events, and lifestyles. Treating accessibility for People with Disabilities as an act of charity, done at our convenience and out of generosity, is a grave injustice.  Removing barriers to accessibility should be embraced as a service to humanity, guided by the principles of Unity in Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Justice.
An older woman out in a garden accesses information on her smartphone.

Publications, Communications, and Digital Content should use Responsive Design to ensure accessibility on small screens, especially as a growing number of people no longer own or use desktop computers and rely solely on smartphones for online access.

Question: Is this example of inclusive practices the norm in your community? If not, what barriers need to be removed which prevent inclusive and welcoming participation?

Exposing the Design Failures of Using Print with Online PDFs, Which Create Discriminatory Barriers to Accessibility and Inclusive Design

Open Generic Print Magazine with two tall stacks of used unwanted magazines

As we strive to remove barriers that prevent us from building Vibrant, Diverse, Inclusive, Accessible Communities, it is imperative for our Institutions and their subsidiaries to center their efforts on Inclusive Design when disseminating content and information. Excluding marginalized community members because of discriminatory and unusable publication design should never be tolerated!

If any discrimination is at all to be tolerated”, Shoghi Effendi has stated when discussing the corrosive effects of prejudice, “it should be a discrimination not against, but rather in favour of the minority, be it racial or otherwise.” - Universal House of Justice letter, 27 December, 2017

Read the full article: Exposing the Design Failures of Using Print with Online PDFs, Which Create Discriminatory Barriers to Accessibility and Inclusive Design



About Us

Welcome to The Shining Lamp

Montage of people making up a diverse vibrant community, including multiple ages, races, genders, and disabilities

This space is about building community.

Imagine a vibrant community where everyone, regardless of Race, Disability, Age, Gender, or Culture, is warmly embraced and empowered to participate fully in all community activities and events, fostering a profound sense of belonging and unity. This web resource aims to guide the creation of such communities by eliminating barriers to inclusivity and accessibility. It emphasizes that everyone, regardless of race, age, disability, or cultural background, should feel valued and have equitable opportunities to participate, contribute and thrive. Enriched by people of diverse backgrounds, everyone is welcome and included, each bringing unique perspectives and strengths that enrich the community.

Opportunities abound for diverse individuals and groups, including those historically marginalized, to engage meaningfully. Children from all backgrounds receive the encouragement they need to explore and grow, while older members share their wisdom and experiences, each valued for their contributions to community life. People with Disabilities find that community programs, services, activities, events, communications, and materials are carefully designed and planned to be fully accessible and inclusive.

In this vibrant community, you can participate in engaging activities and events that promote intergenerational interaction and cultural exchange. Imagine joining immersive presentations or attending cultural exhibitions that celebrate a rich tapestry of histories and experiences. Such endeavors foster mutual respect, understanding, and unity among residents.

This nurturing, inclusive community is committed to achieving Unity in Diversity, where everyone thrives at every level. It's a place where vibrant, diverse, and accessible community initiatives create an environment of mutual support and collective growth. Regardless of background, race, disability, gender, age, or culture, everyone can actively contribute to and benefit from belonging to this kind of vibrant community.

The problem is, barriers continue to exist for many marginalized people.

Marginalized people encounter significantly greater barriers related to race, disability, gender, age, and culture regarding their ability to participate in the community. This is primarily due to the lack of adequate planning for inclusion and accessibility, and is often influenced by majority dynamics.  Sadly, this leaves us with an unbalanced community.  One which is not at all like what is described above. 

Community Access Barrier
See a detailed description of Removing Barriers graphic

In our community building efforts we need to remove barriers that prevent us from building vibrant communities.  We need to find balance in the roles, decisions, activities, and behavior of the three main protagonists: the Individual, the Community, and the Institutions, much like the balance of a three-legged stool.

A three-legged stool with unbalanced legs is ineffective because it lacks stability and support. Similarly, an imbalance in the roles of the Individual, the Community, and the Institutions can prevent the establishment of vibrant and inclusive communities, akin to how an unbalanced three-legged stool undermines stability and support. Achieving balance among these key protagonists is essential for fostering harmony, cooperation, and sustainable growth within the community, guided by the principles of Unity in Diversity, Equity, and Justice in striving to remove barriers that prevent us from building Diverse, Vibrant, Inclusive, Accessible Communities!

Line drawing of a 3-legged stool with the leggs labeled as Individual, Community and Institutions

From the many examples and stories of his travels and engagements, we know that Abdul-Baha’s attention, care, and focus, was on Unity and Justice, and always on Inclusion of those who were considered to be historically marginalized populations, including those with disabilities. Therefore, it only makes sense to follow the many examples of Abdul-Baha as we consult in our Reflection Gatherings in our own Community Building efforts to make certain that the voices and concerns of marginalized people among us are given priority.  As Shoghi Effendi has stated, “If any discrimination is at all to be tolerated”,  “it should be a discrimination not against, but rather in favour of the minority, be it racial or otherwise.”

For the bedrock of the Bahá’í administrative order is the principle of unity in diversity, which has been so strongly and so repeatedly emphasized in the writings of the Cause. 

-Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 90

We should wholeheartedly adopt the guiding principles of Unity in Diversity, Justice, and Inclusion, acknowledging the wealth of diversity present among the people and groups in and around our community.

We should prioritize fostering Race Unity and eliminating all forms of racism through willful anti-racism within our communities by learning about and listening to the problems and concerns of black, indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC), guided by Abdul-Baha's teachings and examples. Recognizing systemic barriers, we must dismantle all forms of discrimination and ensure equitable opportunities.

Building an age-friendly community entails addressing key considerations. It emphasizes the significance of nurturing connections among people of diverse ages, while also supporting community champions who promote Age-Friendly programs, services, communications and inclusive events. The aim is to offer insights and actionable steps for creating an Age-Friendly Community through deliberate efforts and collaboration.

Likewise it is critical to remove barriers for People with Disabilities by planning ahead and following through to ensure that all Programs, Services, Events and Materials are Inclusive and Accessible. It requires continuing consultation with People with Disabilities who best understand the barriers they face.

Otherwise, the community remains divided into factions of "haves" and "have nots", disintegrating into an environment of entitlement and an "us" versus "them" mentality. This perpetuates inequalities and undermines the principles of unity, justice, and inclusion, creating barriers that prevent genuine equity and belonging for marginalized individuals.

Reflecting on Abdul-Baha's teachings and examples, we share the responsibility to uplift all marginalized members of society and create environments of genuine equity, inclusion and belonging.

So what can we do about removing barriers?

How can we learn about and remove barriers that prevent us from building Diverse, Vibrant, Inclusive, Accessible Communities?

Let's find out together!

Introduction to Web Accessibility and W3C Standards - A man and a woman engaged with a laptop screen.

Raise awareness about accessibility

Recognized as a fundamental human right under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, access to information and the internet is crucial. With over one billion people globally living with disabilities, ensuring accessibility is paramount. Discover the International Accessibility Standards and their role in fostering inclusivity in your on-line publications. Join the cause by watching and sharing these videos to raise awareness and advocate to remove barriers that prevent us from building Diverse, Vibrant, Inclusive, Accessible Communities! 

Accessibility: Essential for Some, Useful for All

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Learn and Use the International Accessibility Standards

To ensure your communication is accessible and inclusive in emails, meetings, events, videos, newsletters, websites, apps, and other materials produced, published and used, it's vital to follow International Accessibility Standards developed using a comprehensive inclusive process. Thankfully, Accessibility Training offers free and easy-to-learn standards for you to utilize.

Celebrate Diversity! - Plan Accessible Events - Diverse Planning Meeting Including People with Disabilities and People of Different Racial Backgrounds

Plan and Host Accessible Events

Abdul-Baha exemplified unity, justice, and inclusion of marginalized people, including those with disabilities. It's crucial for event planners to prioritize accessibility for participants.  Removing barriers and establishing just relationships is key to uplifting everyone and building vibrant communities.

Medical Model of Disability: An icon of a person using a wheelchair and a medical symbol with the text "They need to be fixed! Change!". Social Model of Disability: An icon of a happy person using  a wheelchair and an image of people with raised fists, symbolizing the removal of barriers to promote inclusivity.

Change our Mindset from the Medical Model to the Social Model of Disability

Shifting from the medical to the social model of disability is critical because it emphasizes the need to address systemic barriers and promote inclusivity, rather than solely focusing on fixing individual impairments.

Thousands of small galaxies appear across this view. Their colors vary. Some are shades of orange, while others are white. Most appear as fuzzy ovals, but a few have distinct spiral arms. In front of the galaxies are several foreground stars. Most appear blue, and the bright stars have diffraction spikes, forming an eight-pointed star shape. There are also many thin, long, orange arcs that curve around the center of the image.

Use ALT Text and Descriptive Images

Boost your image accessibility - learn how to write meaningful ALT text. Learn to tell the difference between simply identifying what's present in the image and offering a clear and concise description of it.

Write Inclusive Accessible Email Messages -  email icons and people networking overlaid with hands typing on a laptop

Write Inclusive Accessible Email Messages

Effective communication is crucial in creating diverse, inclusive communities, and email messages are a common tool used for sharing information. If messages aren't inclusive and accessible, they can stifle and harm community building by creating a sense of "otherness" instead of belonging. It is essential to remove these barriers and create truly diverse, vibrant, and inclusive communities.

Audio Description Icon: A black square with a rounded white rectangle inside containing the uppercase letters AD and three curved lines ))) representing sound waves.

Learn about and Use Audio Description in Video for Blind and Low Vision Accessibility

To ensure accessibility for those who are Blind or have Low Vision, be sure to use videos with Audio Descriptions for presentations and enable Audio Descriptions during presentations and video creation. This article emphasizes the importance of Audio Descriptions, their role, and how to incorporate them for a more inclusive digital world.

Open Generic Print Magazine with two tall stacks of used unwanted magazines

Fix the Unusable Flaws of Print with Online PDF for Accessibility and Inclusive Design.

Fixing the flaws of relying on print publications and online PDFs for accessibility and inclusive design is crucial in today's digital landscape. Traditional PDF formats prioritize designer control over presentation, but an inclusive approach prioritizes user control and accessibility instead. The PDF format, while offering designer control, presents significant barriers for people with disabilities, such as limited customization options and problems for screen reader users. Alternative formats and consultation with people with disabilities are essential steps towards truly useful and inclusive content creation, ensuring that digital environments are accessible and equitable for all users.

Braille: An image of a page of braille text, with raised dots forming letters and words with two hands reading from a Braille book. Audio: An image of a speaker, indicating that the content is available in an audio format. Large Print: An image of text with larger font size and a yellow contrasting background, indicating that the content is available in a large print format. Electronic: An image of a refreshable Braille mobile device, indicating that the content is available in an electronic format such as a PDF or Word document.

Make Materials Accessible to Your Blind Friends.

Include blind friends in meetings by providing accessible formats like braille, audio, large print, or electronic copies. Check privately for their preferred format which can be obtained easily through a certified transcriber, enabling full participation.

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Take Advantage of our Resources

Remove barriers and unlock the full potential of the Shining Lamp Collection of Resources!

Stay informed with our Articles - A woman is multitasking in the kitchen, using both a tablet and a smartphone to read online articles.

Stay informed with our Articles

Discover a world of illuminating knowledge, understanding and discover effective ways to take action at the Shining Lamp's online collection of articles.

Fresh white brush strokes form the lettering, “What’s New” on a freshly painted blue canvas where the wet paint is still dripping.

Keep up to date with What's New!

Stay up-to-date with the latest and most intriguing content on the Shining Lamp website. Explore a variety of captivating articles, videos, and resources that will keep you informed and ready and able to remove barriers. Don't miss out on the opportunity to discover something new and exciting every time you visit the site.

Be an Upholder and Defender of the Victims of Oppression

Be an Upholder and Defender of the Victims of Oppression - Clear blue springtime sky with a sunburst-colored 9-pointed star featuring centered Universal Accessibility Symbols, and buds on a twig in the background.

Take action to remove barriers that prevent us from building inclusive and just communities. Establish equitable relationships among individuals, communities, and institutions of society that uplift all and reject the idea of "othering." Uphold and defend the rights of those who suffer from oppression and be a beacon of hope and compassion.

Remove Barriers

Removing Barriers - Diverse group of people smiling with arms up in the air and a Block showing the Universal Disability Symbols with a green Go Button in the center

Our 9 Year Plan includes a call to action for us to remove barriers to building vibrant communities. By identifying and addressing the barriers that exist, we can foster a more inclusive and equitable environment that empowers individuals and supports collective growth.

Unity in Diversity

A virtual meeting screen displaying a diverse group of attendees actively participating and smiling

The Baha'i concept of Unity in Diversity holds that despite differences in race, gender, disability, age, and culture, there is a fundamental unity underlying all human experience.

The Baha'i Faith and People with Disabilities

The Baha'i Faith and People with Disabilities - Sunburst colored 9 Pointed Star withuniversal disability symbols inside over a sunset background

As members of society, it is our collective responsibility to remove barriers and promote inclusion for people with disabilities. We should strive to ensure equal opportunities, educate ourselves and others to combat prejudice, and eliminate stereotypes and prejudices. Let us work together towards building diverse, vibrant, and accessible communities where People with Disabilities are valued and included.