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End the Awkward: Focus on the Person, Not the Disability

End the Awkward Pin

“End the Awkward” is a one-day campaign on July 15, 2015 in the District of Columbia that empowers businesses and the public to share information about people with disabilities, and to take a pledge to raise awareness and better understand disability issues. Individuals and businesses who registered for the campaign before July 8 have committed to wearing an "End the Awkward" pin (at right) on July 15 and to learn a few short tips we provide about respectful ways to interact with people with disabilities. When people see the pin and ask how to "end the awkward," paricipants will simply recite one of the talking points. It's that easy, and together we will reach thousands of people!

Our DC effort is inspired by Scope’s “End the Awkward” campaign in the UK, which features great videos and other materials on how to “end the awkward,” and has gained attention worldwide!

Over 500 members of the public and nearly 1200 employees at 46 businesses have registered to participate on July 15! If each participant shares a tip on how to "end the awkward" with just 10 people, we will reach nearly 20,000 people with important messages that affect people with disabilities!

Participants and non-participants are also encouraged to use social media to promote the campain and raise visilbity for these important issues. Just use the hashtag #EndTheAwkwardDC.

The "Tips"

The tips on how to "end the awkward" were provided in participant packages and are also available online in PDF or Word. Here is a sample tip:

“American Sign Language is fun to watch, but if you’re having a conversation with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing, be sure to watch them and not the interpreter.”

The Pledges

Whether you registered to "End the Awkward" or not, we encourage you take one or more pledges on July 15 to help further your commitment to or understanding of disability issues. 

Pledge 1 - 10 Small Ways to Make a Difference: Learn 10 small ways you can make a difference! Just download the 10 small ways pledge sheet in PDF or Word.

Pledge 2 - #AccessiblePathsDC: Spend a day taking only accessible paths to work, back home and to fun with friends. Although you will not fully understand the challenges people with mobile disabilities face, it's a great way to start thinking about the importance of accessibility. Download instructions in PDF or Word.

Plege 3 - Watch & Share the "Awkward" Video: Watch and share on social media the Office of Disability Rights video below. It's only three minutes, and does a great job of explaining how to avoid scenarios that could be "awkward."

More Information

For additional detailed information about the campaign, download the "End the Awkward Campaign Description" in PDF or Word

A resource for Supporting Students with Hearing Impairments is available here

Participating Businesses & Organizations as of July 10

Accessibility Partners
Advocates for Justice and Education
The Arc of DC
Assistive Technology Program for the District of Columbia
Busboys and Poets
Cafe Carvy
Capital Travel and Events
Changed Thinking
The Coupe
The Diner
District of Columbia Board of Elections
Felix Fix-It
District of Columbia Office of the Tenant Advocate
Greenberry's Coffee & Tea
El Tamarindo
Howard University’s Office of Student Services – Disability Services
Humanity Road
Lars Etzkorn Law PLLC
Lifeline Partnership
Meridian International Center
MTM, Inc.
National Human Services Assembly
National Network of Public Health Institutes
National Rehabilitation Hospital
Nations Learning Center
Nellie's Sports Bar
NoMa Business Improvement District
Number Nine
Open City
Open City at the National Cathedral
PNC Bank (1913 Massachusetts Ave NW Location)
RCM of Washington
Reingold LINK
Right Proper Brewing Company
Shaw's Tavern
Tease Free Kids
Thrive DC
Tryst at The Phillips
University of the District of Columbia - Disability Resource Center

"End the Awkward" Agency & Organization Partners

DC Office of Human RightsAge-Friendly DCAmerican Association for People with Disabilities
Restaurant Association of Metropolitan WashingtonEqual Rights CenterDC Department of Disability ServicesDepartment of Small and Local Business Development

DC Office of Disability Rights Institute for Educational LeaderhipDC Office on AgingQuality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities

United Cerebral PalsyDC Advocacy PartnersSteve Winter Associates, Inc.DC Developmental Disabilities Council

DC Center for Independent LivingNational Disability Rights Network

The “End the Awkward" project is a collaboration between the District of Columbia government, disability advocacy organizations, businesses and allies with the desire to share information about people with disabilities to increase awareness and understanding. The event is part of a larger effort to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act this July.