Disability is not Inability!
A lot of people believe that disability inclusion is an act of charity. That it’s something good people do to make up for the wrongs done in society, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Disability inclusion is not just about accessibility and equal opportunities; it’s about recognizing that people with disabilities are part of society, too. Disability does not diminish humanity or worthiness or potential – rather, it expands all three by making us more aware and empathetic human beings.
It starts with our own communities: we must include people with disabilities in every aspect of social life (political, economic, cultural) if we want to see a world where these barriers don’t exist at all anymore. We need to stop seeing disability as a burden on our families, society and healthcare system. It is important to remember that disability does not equate inability. In Australia we are extremely blessed to have the National Disability Insurance Scheme that allows us to support people with disabilities to assist them in achieving their life goals. The scheme has created opportunities for people with disabilities to gain independence, assist with daily life activities and community activities, specialist disability accommodation, allied health support as well as supporting those with disabilities to have jobs. The scheme has also created jobs for hundreds of thousands of people.
So what are some things we can do to be more inclusive?
1. Use of language: People with disabilities are NOT disabled people. It is important to understand the difference, as a person’s disability does not define them.
2. Ensuring accessibility: Where possible, we should make our services accessible to everyone. This includes having accessible entries to our businesses (e.g. ramps, elevators), accessible bathroom facilities, accessible resources (e.g. audiobooks, braille, easy read resources etc.)
3. Treating people with disabilities as you would any other person: It is important not to belittle people or dismiss their opinions/ thoughts simply because of a disability. As mentioned, the person’s disability does not define them, it is important that you treat them equally.
It is the feeling of being left out, not by choice but because there are no other options. For many people with disabilities, it’s a daily struggle to get through their day-to-day lives and participate in society like everyone else. You can help these individuals feel included by treating them just as you would any other person—by making your business accessible for wheelchair users or providing closed captioning on videos that have audio content so they can still enjoy what you offer when they otherwise couldn’t. Always remember disability is not inability!