SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union Holds Workshops to Commemorate Signing of Americans with Disabilities Act

Low-to-no cost workshops featured exercises simulating disabilities to help team members develop a clearer understanding of how to serve Members better

Tustin, Calif. (Aug. 2023) – SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, the largest credit union serving school employees and their families, today announced that they hosted two successful workshops for its marketing, product, user design and research team members in the Tustin headquarters and Sacramento operation center, to commemorate the July 26 anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Each session featured hands-on learning activities to simulate common disabilities, which gave team members direct experience of Members’ different capabilities. The exercises will help them better serve Members in innovative ways based on care and empathy.

“Our team plays a vital role ensuring all Members have the resources they need to achieve financial well-being. These simple exercises allowed our team to experience what some of our Members have to experience every day," said Wellesley Sommerfeldt, vice president, integrated marketing at SchoolsFirst FCU. “I’m confident everyone who participated in the training came away with a new perspective and greater compassion to provide World-Class Personal Service to our Members of all abilities.”

Most of the simulators used for the workshops (listed below) were either free or DIY, inexpensive or easy to acquire, which makes this experience accessible to other financial institutions looking to broaden their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

  • NVDA screen reader, which enables blind and vision-impaired people to use computers.
  • Web Disability Simulator, a browser extension for Chrome, which simulates color blindness, low vision, dyslexia, and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Glasses with plastic wrap and yellow highlighted dots on the lenses to simulate cataracts.
  • Glasses with black dots in the middle of the lenses for macular degeneration.
  • Goggles demonstrating minor to severe vision loss.
  • Sleeping masks for total blindness.
  • Gloves simulating arthritis.
  • Shoulder splints to demonstrate a temporary disability like a broken shoulder on the arm of your dominant hand.


“This is a beneficial exercise I hope other credit unions consider adopting, not just to commemorate the signing of the ADA, but year-round,” said Sommerfeldt. She added that one of the most powerful simulation tools was a sleeping mask to experience transferring money between accounts in Online Banking in total blindness, with only the help of a screen reader.

One SchoolsFirst FCU team member who participated in the session commented afterward,

“Thank you for an enlightening and interactive experience today. You took creativity and innovation to a new level. The live demos of how Members with disabilities interact with our website and everyday activities were engaging and strengthened our awareness and empathy of these challenges. Thank you for providing this learning opportunity and allowing us to come out of our everyday work to be inspired by this experience.” 



About SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union:

SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union is the fifth largest credit union in the country and has been recognized by Forbes as the number one credit union in California. Serving school employees and their families, the organization is dedicated to delivering World-Class Personal Service and improving the financial lives of its Members. Today they serve more than 1.3 million Members with a full range of financial products and services. SchoolsFirst FCU was founded in 1934, when 126 school employees pooled $1,200 and established a Member-owned cooperative to help improve each other's lives. In 2022, the Credit Union reported nearly $28 billion in assets and remains the largest credit union in California. For more information about SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, visit

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