This International Day for Persons with Disabilities, the United Nations has chosen to focus on the theme of Inclusiveness through narrowing upon the concept of “Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities”. Inclusion is an aspect which has gained much recognition in society today and is gaining significant momentum in various areas of our daily functioning and living.
What is Inclusion?
Inclusion, described simply is essentially the concept of including individuals coming from varying sectors under one umbrella. In the context of disabilities it envisages giving respect and generating acceptance for individuals who come with varying or differing abilities in various aspects of society and its functioning. The idea is to create effective mechanisms through which individuals who are differently abled can find a space for their own selves and are not relegated to the fringe of society.
Where Does Inclusion Start?
Inclusion is not just an institutional concept and something that can and should be implemented at the level of larger systems. It is an aspect that needs to be incorporated into our daily lives by each individual and only then will it become a movement that would herald substantive changes within the larger rubric of the society in which we reside.
Being inclusive is something we all need to start first thinking about and then build it into each of our actions. That is the only way forward for inclusiveness to become a household name. inclusion starts in each of our minds and then moves to our actions and behaviours, impacting and influencing those around us, motivating them to join in as well and thus creating a cascading effect.
What Can Each of Us Do?
There is much that each of us can do, frequently in many small ways, that can be a big step in the direction of inclusion. Some of the basic things that each of us can keep in our conscious awareness include,
- Avoid treating individuals differently.
- Do not be derogatory.
- Recognise areas of strength for each individual.
- Do not be cognizant of an individuals’ drawbacks alone.
- Do not hesitate to communicate and associate. There are always common grounds that can be found with most people.
- Be empathetic.
- Be aware of your own fallacies so you can avoid hurting others.
- Find small ways of integrating people who may be differently abled.
- Take a stand where you see a situation demands it.
- Be encouraging and motivating and help where you can.
In sum, each of us as individuals can make a significant contribution towards heralding inclusion in the society in which we live but the key is in being cognizant and aware. The greater the awareness and the more we situate inclusion in our minds, the bigger the chances of achieving the aim of access and empowerment for people of all abilities.