THE BLOG
05/19/2016 04:03 pm ET Updated May 17, 2017

Easterseals Launches Revitalized Brand Bringing Renewed Purpose

Two weeks after launching Easterseals' most significant brand initiative in more than 50 years, the public response is far exceeding expectations. I've received many calls, emails and visits from our clients, supporters, and employees sharing their reactions to the changes, which debuted Tuesday, May 3, on our headquarters website. The website refresh marked the first public preview of a brand roll-out to take place over the next three years. Together with our 74 affiliates, we're setting a path to celebrate Easterseals' 100th anniversary in 2019.

Our goal is largely two-fold: One, to capture and communicate the work Easterseals does for and with people with disabilities right now; and two, to introduce Easterseals to the millions of people who are experiencing disability today, but don't yet know our history and expertise.

For nearly 100 years, Easterseals has been the indispensable resource for people with disabilities. Now, as America faces a broad range of new issues, we have evolved to make a positive, life-changing difference in the lives of people and families who experience today's disabilities. While Easterseals history is rooted in providing services to children with physical disabilities, today, we're advancing opportunities for people of all ages and a range of disabilities to better live, learn, work, play and act in their communities.

The bottom line for us is addressing the huge level of unmet needs among people with disabilities -- a growing community that includes those with visible and invisible disabilities, as well as veterans, aging adults, caregivers and more. Too many young children reach kindergarten with undiagnosed disabilities and delays, too many youth with autism don't get the behavioral health services necessary to graduate job-ready, and too many older adults enter nursing homes because they can't access personal care or adult day services to remain in their homes.

Easterseals provides vital services to 1.4 million individuals and families, from infancy to advanced age. But with some 56.7 million Americans documenting their disability, we know we aren't reaching enough of this group. We are working to change that -- our new brand is key to our ability to serve more people, families and communities. The work we do everyday is redefining the way we view, experience and embrace disability in the 21st century.

With this in mind, gone is Easterseals' lily logo, which dates back to the 1960s -- a moniker of our most successful fundraising campaign -- and in its place, a warm sunburst to signify the bright inclusive future we're working toward.

Our new tagline, "Taking on disability together" speaks to our purpose and partnership in the disability community. It is a galvanizing call to action, engaging all Americans on disability-related issues so the wider world understands why these issues matter, how they affect all of us, and how we must work together to address them.

We've learned, and our research has shown, this tagline resonates with many people we serve, our supporters and the general public. While many people support and understand the tagline, we've also heard from some disability advocates that it may be interpreted differently. We are certainly committed to listening and learning from all perspectives.

Our very next step in this multi-year re-brand is to connect more broadly with the individuals and families we serve and the legions of people who could benefit from and support our services. And we'll do so in the coming weeks and months, deliberately entering and engaging in an open dialogue about how we can best work together to ensure Easterseals is amplifying a conversation about disability, for and with people with disabilities, in the most effective and thoughtful way.

At Easterseals, we don't see the word "disability" as a label or a personal identifier. Rather, disability is a natural part of life, of all of our lives. We partner alongside people with disabilities to set and achieve high goals, building on individual strengths and interests. Easterseals fosters that critical process every day, and we see great value in educating others about what it takes -- illustrating through our actions and our proactive, positive vision that everyone with and without disabilities has a voice and a contribution to make.

The population we serve is diverse and its needs are many:
  • One in six, or about 15%, of children aged 3 to 17 years have one or more disabilities;
  • The unemployment rate for people with disabilities continues to be nearly double the rate than for people with no disability;
  • More than 34 million unpaid caregivers provide care to someone age 18 and older who is ill or has a disability.

These are just a few of the statistics illustrating why the need for disability services and advocacy has never been greater -- this unmet need is the driving force behind our efforts.

We aspire to do so much more. I look forward to partnering with those interested in advancing this conversation around disability in the coming weeks and months to further our critical cause and role ... one I've dedicated my life to.

I knew very early on I wanted to pursue a career that combined my passion for making a difference and my strong interest in healthcare. Now in my second year as President and CEO of Easterseals - 34th year overall with the organization - I am more energized than ever to lead an organization making a profound, positive difference in people's lives everyday.

Easterseals has always been a pioneer, a vital resource, serving the disability community unlike any other organization. We lead the charge toward inclusion and equal opportunity for all, culminating in the passage of the American Disabilities Act in 1990. Before that and since, Easterseals has had a hand in advancing landmark laws in education, health, employment, and independent living that assure access to essential services and preventing discrimination on the basis of disability.

While these laws represent tremendous progress, we recognize we must do even more to address the needs of a growing community of people experiencing increasingly complex, persistent, and emerging issues related to disability. We invite a full and open dialogue on these issues, to spur understanding and actions that support equality, inclusion, and opportunity. We are ready to work together to elevate and advance disability awareness in the public's eye, to mobilize the necessary resources to create real change and meet urgent unmet needs among people with disabilities and their families.

Through all of life's moments -- from the ordinary to the extraordinary -- and everything in between, Easterseals is here. I am honored to be your partner at this moment in time.