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A society where people with disability are included: Now that’s worth striving for!

 

Have you noticed that our blog posts mentions inclusion for people with disability many times?

Do you wonder why we speak about disability inclusion so often?

We believe that people with disability must be included in all sectors of society. As a person with a disability I know how vital it is to feel a sense of belonging in one’s community.  I’ve also felt excluded and marginalised due to my disability.

Many people with disability have also felt this way.

 

So what is inclusion for people with disability?

Many people are confused about what disability inclusion means.

Scope, an organisation for people with disability in Victoria, claims social inclusion for people with disability is more than their physical presence in the community.

Melbourne City Mission writes that inclusion for people with disability involves that of an individual feeling that they are valued and respected as members of society.

Educator Dr Joseph Petner, Educator believes inclusion is about everyone being recognised as an intrinsic part of the community.

Columnist Paolo Gaudian writes, diversity and inclusion expert Vernā Myers coined the phrase “diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being welcomed”.

So disability inclusion is not just when people with disability are physically present within a community. It is when they are regarded as valued citizens.

From the above explanations of disability inclusion, one can assume that it must be a human right.

Therefore surely people with disability are included in society.

Wrong.

It’s true that we are able to access public venues [mostly], join in public events etc.

However, unfortunately, sometimes we don’t feel welcome, and it seems our differences are enhanced.

Often when I’m out in the community, people stare at me due to my physical disability. This makes me feel as though I don’t belong. I feel as if it accentuates my difference.

 

The Australian Network on Disability wrote that research conducted by Scope and researchers from Deakin University found that people with disability felt excluded from society. The researchers found that community attitudes were preventing people with disability from being included into society.

 

Journalist Nadja Fleet cites studies that show many people with disabilities still feel excluded and ignored. Dignity for Disability MLC, Kelly Vincent who has cerebral palsy states that society is yet to be inclusive. She believes people’s attitudes towards those with disability must change in order to achieve an inclusive society.

As a person with disability, I’ve also felt excluded and marginalised.

Recently I was in a café and I asked the waitress if she could please tell me where the bathroom was. She responded in an extremely patronising manner and even asked me whether I required help. While I have no doubt that she meant well, and that she didn’t know I was intelligent, it made me feel as though my differences were magnified. I felt I was an outsider. This was not inclusion.

I wrote an email to the management politely informing them about what had happened. The staff member apologised for offending me and we had a nice chat. She was conducive to feedback. This shows that many people want to be inclusive of people with disability, but they just don’t know how.

So how can we make society inclusive for people with disability?

Rebecca Saloustros, who works for a disability organisation that promotes disability inclusion suggested ways to create a society that is more inclusive for people with disability. She believes that there should be more inclusive classrooms.

Rebecca writes that communities must be designed with disability access in mind. Rebecca rightfully claims that designers should create separate entrances for people with disability. Instead they should ensure all entrances are accessible for everyone.
Rebecca writes that disability representation must increase in areas such as leadership, media, politics and business.

 

Rebecca’s final suggestion for having a more disability inclusive society is to actively engage with your community members with disabilities.

 

Disability inclusion is not just an issue for people with disability, it’s an issue for everyone.

 

Without disability inclusion, society is depriving itself from being exposed to talented and gifted people.

 

I believe society should include all individuals regardless of their backgrounds I.e race, age, disability. We will become richer for it.

 

My name is Lauren Hislop, i have a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Social Science and a Bachelor of Social Science Honours, and i am a disability activist.

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