About TEDxMesaCCRedMountain - Access Arizona: Inclusion and Accessibility

Our nation’s community colleges have long been active in serving our diverse populations, particularly those to whom a private, elite education was neither readily available nor affordable. “No other segment of higher education,” writes the American Association of Community College, “is more responsive to its community and workforce needs than the community college.” Today, united by “the shared goals of access and service” sustained by open admission policies and low tuition rates, they form a network of 1,166 institutions of higher education that educate more than fifty percent of our nation’s undergraduates.

Established in 1962, the Maricopa County Community College District is a proud adherent to this tradition and praxis. As such, it takes great pride in welcoming and serving members of Arizona’s diverse population, with particular emphasis on providing teaching and learning opportunities to students who might otherwise be denied them. Its role, therefore, is that of gateway rather than gatekeeper to higher education in Arizona. This TEDx event, titled “Access Arizona: Inclusion and Accessibility,” celebrates a time-honored tradition by welcoming speakers from all walks of life who embrace the ideals of accessibility and inclusivity and have dedicated themselves to acting on them.

Disability is only one facet of many regarding diversity, but one that is all too rarely acknowledged and included in human and civil rights discourses.

Perceptions, understanding, attitudes, and practices regarding this condition have long been evolving. Religious literature, pervaded by magical thinking, attributed “disorders” as punishment for moral failings or family curses and miracles as evidence of divine intervention. Medical literature, based in the Enlightenment faith in knowledge and progress, led humans to think of disability in terms of an individual in need of a remedy for some given pathogen or disorder, sometimes resulting in the surrender of agency and healing to experts and specialists. Sociological literature brought us the idea that perhaps the problem didn’t rest so much in the person with the disability as in the disabling nature of the “built environment,” perpetuated by elitist ableism.

Experts in universal design, while noting that older forms of technology, such as stairs, could be replaced with more inclusive, enabling ones, noted also that such improvements and means are rarely selected and when they are, begrudgingly.

Lest we forget, all of us, though, are only temporarily able-bodied, given the innate fragility of the human body. Our entry into the disability community, therefore, is virtually inevitable. It may come by way of genetics, disease, injury, or age, but, one way or another, we had best prepare ourselves to join. It is the one minority group to which all of us will at some point in our lives belong. Denial of such, steeped in ableism, the ideology of the able-bodied, ultimately works against our own best long-term interests. So, too, do any barriers to accessibility and full inclusion we perpetuate or allow.

This TEDx event features individuals who have had a tremendous impact in our communities, especially regarding accessibility and inclusion. We are extremely fortunate to have them in our midst, sharing their wisdom, stories, insights, and ideas

TEDxMesaCCRedMountain is a local, independently organized TEDx event in Mesa, AZ, USA that strives to re-create the unique experience found at TED. At its core, the fundamental goal is to foster “ideas worth spreading”. Our aim is to provide a platform where thinkers and change makers co-inspire to question the way we think.

We are a collective of people who are deeply concerned about what happens in this country. We are a bi-partisan group setting a non political initiative to create positive change. Our mission is to find individuals who are breaking new ground and covering issues which will still be relevant and even paramount in the next 50 years.

About TEDx, x = independently organized event.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

About TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 26 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. At TED, the world’s leading thinkers and doers are asked to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. Talks are then made available, free, at TED.com. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Benoit Mandelbrot, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

About TED conferences

Twice a year, a group of interesting and impactful people gathers for the week-long TED experience — which attendees have described as “the ultimate brain spa” and “a journey into the future in the company of those creating it.” It’s a winning formula of brilliant, curious minds and groundbreaking content in an immersive and focused environment.

What is a TED conference?

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design — three broad subject areas that are collectively shaping our world. But a TED conference is broader still, showcasing important ideas from any discipline, and exploring how they all connect. The format is fast-paced: 50+ talks over the course of a week, as well as morning and evening get-togethers. As they take in the program, attendees and speakers from vastly different fields can cross-fertilize and draw inspiration from unlikely places. This is the magic of TED.

Types of TED Conferences

The flagship TED Conference is held annually on the North American West Coast. The breadth of content includes science, business, the arts, technology and global issues. Eighteen-minute talks are interspersed with shorter presentations, including music, performances and comedy. TEDFest is an opportunity to meet TEDx’ers from around the world while watching the live-hosted TED program in Brooklyn, New York. Exclusively programed for the entire TEDx community, TEDFest joins the best of TED with all that New York has to offer.


TEDGlobal travels the world and is slightly more international in nature. The full TED format is maintained, with a wide-ranging roster of speakers and performers for a week of inspiring sessions. TEDGlobal was held in Oxford, UK, in 2005, 2009 and 2010; in Arusha, Tanzania, in 2007; and in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2011, 2012 and 2013. For 2014 it’s heading to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Other TED events

TED also regularly hosts other special events around the globe. TEDIndia was held in November 2009 in Mysore, celebrating and exploring the beckoning future of South Asia. TEDWomen was held in 2010 in Washington, DC, and again in 2013 in San Francisco, asking the question, how are women and girls reshaping the future?

TEDYouth was held in New York City in 2011 and 2012, and in New Orleans in 2013, with short talks designed to stimulate the curiosity of students. TEDCity2.0, powered by the 2012 TED Prize, presented a day of new thinking about urban life.

TED also hosts smaller events, including TED Salons, evening-length events with speakers and performers, and TED@250 events, curated by TED staff in our New York office to explore issues of interest. Meanwhile, TED Institute events bring TED’s curatorial lens to the ideas found within large companies.

For information about TED’s upcoming conferences, visit http://www.ted.com/registration.
Follow TED on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TEDTalks, or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TED.