Including people with disabilities in everyday activities and encouraging them to have roles similar to their peers who do not have a disability is disability inclusion. This involves more than simply encouraging people; it requires making sure that adequate policies and practices are in effect in a community or organization.
Inclusion should lead to increased participation in socially expected life roles and activities—such as being a student, worker, friend, community member, patient, spouse, partner, or parent.
Socially expected activities may also include engaging in social activities, using public resources such as transportation and libraries, moving about within communities, receiving adequate health care, having relationships, and enjoying other day-to-day activities.
What is disability?
Impairments are part of the human condition and almost everyone will be temporarily or permanently impaired at some point in their lives, with the type, degree and impact of this impairment varying from person to person.
The United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognises disability as an evolving concept and states that ‘persons with disabilities’ are those who have physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments, which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others. It identifies the experience of disability is complex, multidimensional and dynamic; critically, it also highlights that disability is understood as an ‘interaction’, not solely as impairment. It recognises that persons are disabled by external factors such as environmental or attitudinal barriers as well as by their health condition.
Disability Inclusion and the Health of People with Disabilities.
Disability inclusion allows for people with disabilities to take advantage of the benefits of the same health promotion and prevention activities experienced by people who do not have a disability.
Examples of these activities include:
▪️ Education and counselling programs that promote physical activity, improve nutrition or reduce the use of tobacco, alcohol or drugs; and
▪️ Blood pressure and cholesterol assessment during annual health exams, and screening for illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Including people with disabilities in these activities begins with identifying and eliminating barriers to their participation.
Why is This Important?
Disability affects approximate 61 million, or nearly 1 in 4 (26%) people in the United States living in communities. Disability affects more than one billion people worldwide. According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, people “. . . with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory [such as hearing or vision] impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.”
People with disabilities experience significant disadvantages when it comes to health such as:
▪️ Adults with disabilities are three times more likely to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer than adults without disabilities;
▪️Adults with disabilities are more likely than adults without disabilities to be current smokers;and
▪️Women with disabilities are less likely than women without disabilities to have received a breast cancer X-ray test (mammogram) during the past 2 years.
Although disability is associated with health conditions (such as arthritis, mental, or emotional conditions) or events (such as injuries), the functioning, health, independence, and engagement in society of people with disabilities can vary depending on several factors:
▪️Severity of the underlying impairment.
▪️Social, political, and cultural influences and expectations.
▪️ Aspects of natural and built surroundings.
▪️ Availability of assistive technology and devices.
▪️ Family and community support and engagement.
Disability inclusion means understanding the relationship between the way people function and how they participate in society, and making sure everybody has the same opportunities to participate in every aspect of life to the best of their abilities and desires.
ways to make society more inclusive for people with disabilities.
Disabled or able-bodied, we all have the power and responsibility to make society more inclusive for everyone. From lived experiences to listening to the disability community, here are ways we can continue to make our world more accepting of people with disabilities.
1. View the Disability Community as a Valuable Consumer.
It’s still progressive to see the disability community as a targeted audience and consumer. We’re the biggest minority population in the world, yet the most under represented when it comes to marketing products, as we’re the last to be thought of. While part of this stems from the fact that there is a great deal of diversity within the disability community, those consumer segments (and their families) still have significant purchasing power. We’re slowly seeing models with disabilities incorporated in fashion and marketing commercials, but this needs to become the norm, and not seen as future-forward thinking.
2. Employ People with Disabilities- They are Ambitious and Want to Work.
Money also stated that, “disabled workers earn less a year than non-disabled workers, according to Census data on median earnings.” The disability community is still discriminated against at work from being refused a job or denied a final interview. But when it comes down to it, employers need to see a person, including his/her disability, as an asset and not a potential liability.
3. Increase Disability Representation in Political Setting.
Can you think of many politicians or government officials- local, state, to national level- who live with a disability? If you look hard enough you will begin to see the variety of disabilities many people live with who work inside a political office.
According to NCD’s Report, people with disabilities still encounter architectural, attitudinal and technological barriers when exercising their right to vote, including, no automatic door openers, an absence of Sign Language interpreters, no Braille signs or ramps; narrow doorways and inaccessible voting machines. In addition, voter competency for people with intellectual disabilities was challenged and some people were turned away.
4. Integrate Disability History in School Curriculums.
How can a person with a disability acknowledge and identify with his/her history if it’s not widely taught? How can the community be embraced if their civic background is never taught?Disability history needs to be integrated within our school system for the community to fully acknowledged.
5. Promote Social Inclusion in Schools.
Our overall cultural consciousness on how we treat and interact with disability needs to change, beginning in elementary schools. We need to celebrate our peers for their differences. If this is taught at a young age, less discrimination and more social inclusion will occur. Having kids with and without disabilities learning side-by-side helps everybody appreciate the talents and gifts all kids bring with them. As a society, we have the responsibility to promote the inclusion of our differences.
6. Employ More Actors with Disabilities in Mainstream Media.
We need to see more actors with disabilities playing actual character roles of people who have disabilities. No more able-bodied actors playing a person with a disability when an actor living with a disability can be easily hired. I understand if a director wants to hire an able-bodied actor to characterize a person before his/her accident or disability, but what about movies or shows where a character is already disabled? How could an able-bodied actor play a character with a disability better than a person living under those circumstances? And even at that, our media needs to do a better job at accepting disability as a human condition instead of a flaw and imperfection.
7. Make Air Travel Universally Accessible.
Many people with disabilities are active business people with vibrant careers who are respected in their various fields. That is, until they get to the airport and become dependent on the Special Services Request or cannot use the washroom once in the air. Many people with disabilities have faced unfortunate experiences at the airport or even in the air- left for hours without a chair, or access to a washroom. The level of disrespect and invisibility a traveler with a disability endures can be astounding and frustrating. Training the Special Services Request personnel would go a long way in promoting a more positive experience though the “just ask, just listen” approach. A better interaction would be to ask travelers with a disability what they need and act accordingly. Also, major airlines need to do a better job at accommodating people with disabilities by building an accessible restroom within planes. Many people with disabilities have to forgo traveling for long flights because they do not have access to a bathroom.
8. Realize that People with Disabilities are Humans too.
It’s interesting how we can see a person in one dimension and forget that he/she is a human being, intricate with multiple angles. When we see a person outside of their element, we tend to forget that a he/she’s life is a culmination of different sides and not just how we see them in an isolated environment. Sometimes people can forget that a person with a disability is first and foremost a human being with desires, talents, skills, heartache and loss, just like everyone else. At the basis of every person are the similarities we all share for being human, and that includes people with disabilities.
Disability Inclusion”, www.cdc.gov
“Inclusion: disability”, media.ifrc.org
“Ten ways to make society more inclusive for people with disabilities”, www.oneyoungworld.com