JPMorgan Chase has formed an initiative to expand conference access to people with physical disabilities.
JPMorgan will fund scholarships and finance services to help disabled people attend professional conferences. The bank has partnered with the World Institute on Disability in Berkeley, Calif., on the project, called the Conference Accessibility Initiative. JPMorgan executives realized, on attending other conferences, that it was an area that needed attention.
"We thought why don't we try to reach out to some of these large conferences, some of which get thousands of people at a time, and see if they'll be willing to work with us to try to make their conferences more accessible," said Jennifer Kim, a spokeswoman for JPMorgan Chase.
U.S. Census figures show that people with disabilities typically experience more economic hardship, such as higher rates of unemployment and lower median incomes, according to JPMorgan.
"Unless conferences like these fully integrate disability access issues into the content, and people with disabilities are present, the needs of this community are largely left out of the discussion," Kim said.
JPMorgan's participation will include financing scholarships for travel costs to attend conferences, and for registration fees; providing closed captioning and American Sign Language interpreters, and wheelchairs and other physical accommodations; and recruiting conference speakers with disabilities.
JPMorgan and the World Institute are also working with a number of other organizations on the initiative, including the NAACP, Florida Housing Coalition and National Fair Housing Alliance.
JPMorgan declined to specify the amount of funding it is providing. This year's project is a test run and JPMorgan will decide later whether to extend the program.